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Optimization of sequences for the prototype planning

Background

The development of new vehicles requires the construction of very expensive and individual prototypes which are used for a huge number of various tests. In order to minimize costs you have to find a minimal number of different prototypes such that all given tests can be performed before the start of production. The assignment of tests to suitable prototypes is a very  omplex process which was made predominantly by a planner. Thus, the aim of this project was to develop an automatic  lanning tool that optimizes the sequence of the required prototypes.

Procedure

After having collected and analyzed the problem specific data, a mathematical algorithm that allocates the tests to different prototypes and considers relevant planning rules and restrictions was developed. For example, the testing length, flexibility, and different specifications of tests and prototypes had to be taken into consideration. In addition, a planning tool that is connected to the algorithm and allows various parameter settings for the optimization process was developed. The results of different optimization scenarios can be visualized in a Gantt chart. Moreover, the planned tests can be displaced, deleted, or  manipulated by a user with expert knowledge in order to obtain better results. New or modified sequences in prototype plans can be stored in a database that is also connected to the planning tool.

Results

The developed planning tool for a sequencing problem for prototype planning of an automobile manufacturer included the use of a problem specific mathematical optimization algorithm. At this point we were able to incorporate most but not all relevant aspects of the planning problem into our algorithm. Additionally, the tool is very user friendly as it offers the possibility to visualize, modify, and save many different optimizations scenarios.

Contact: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Clausen