Introduction

Production scheduling deals with the allocation of the available resources over time for the manufacture of goods. It involves the decision-making mechanism whose objective is finding a way to assign and use the sequence of shared resources (labor, material, equipment), such that production constraints are satisfied and production costs are minimized.

In this chapter we address a machine-scheduling problem that, while constituting a simplified formalism of the production scheduling, still captures its fundamental complexity. More precisely, we focus on the deterministic job-shop scheduling, whereas a set of n jobs is processed on a finite set of m machines, with precedence constraints imposed on the sequence of individual operations.

The examined scheduling problem, deterministic job-shop scheduling, is the most general classical scheduling problem and due to its factorial explosion is classified into the large class of intractable numerical problems (NP) known as NP-hard, that is, problems that cannot be solved in time polynomial to the dimension of the problem under consideration. Job-shop scheduling due to its importance to the efficient management of manufacturing processes has been addressed by a plethora of approaches.

Next, a reference to industrial practice and to the existing approaches to job-shop scheduling is made, and the essence of our proposed scheduler along with the intended evaluation methodology is outlined.

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