Flow Balancing with Uncertain Demand for Automated Package Sorting Centers

Package carriers use sophisticated automated sorting facilities to efficiently process inbound packages and sort them to their down line destinations. During each of several daily processing windows, primary sorters perform high level sortation of the packages and direct them to one of several secondary sorters that are then used to segregate the packages by their outbound loading destinations. The authors examine the problem of assigning package destinations to the secondary sorters in a way that balances the workload in the facility, while incorporating the day-to-day fluctuation in package volumes and adhering to the outbound loading capacities of the various workcenters in the facility. The authors present a general stochastic modeling framework using chance constraints to balance the flows, and robust constraints to model the capacity limits. The authors propose and evaluate the performance of three alternative mixed integer nonlinear formulations for the problem and determine which is most effective. Significant improvement in package flow balance and loading capacity robustness is shown for the test sorting facilities by comparing the solutions from the proposed new model to those obtained when ignoring, partially or completely, the stochasticity in the package volumes. The online appendix is available at https://doi.org/10.1287/trsc.2015.0662.

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  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01663194
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2018 4:23PM