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Production Leveling Problem


The Production Leveling Problem (PLP) is a combinatorial optimization problem which treats the leveling of production. It belongs to medium-term planning, which means it is intended to be embedded between the long-term planning and the scheduling of the concrete production sequence.

The problem is concerned with assigning orders of certain product types and demand sizes to production periods such that the production of each product type is leveled across all periods. Furthermore the overall amount produced in each period is subject to leveling as well. A solution is feasible if the demands in every period do not exceed given maximum values. The optimization part consists in minimizing the deviation of the production from the optimal balance, while at the same time making sure that the orders are assigned approximately in the order of their priorities. The idea behind this goal is that considering orders only in the order of decreasing priority, as it is often done, frequently leads to spikes and idle times for certain resources involved in the production process. Leveling these highs and lows results in a smoother production process and reduces the risk of delays. It is important to note, that the solution to the PLP is not a schedule since the orders are only assigned to production periods but the concrete execution sequence and assignment to machines and workers is left open. The intention is rather so serve as a step between long-term planning and short-term production scheduling.

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