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You are on page 1of 25

Charlotte Jacobs-Blecha

Department of Industrial Engineering

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35496

Jane C. Ammons

School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA 30332

Avril Schutte

Cummins Engine Company, Inc.

Columbus, IN 47201

Terri Smith

MCI

Roswell, GA

Abstract

Cut order planning is the problem of planning the fabric cut for a set of apparel orders.

Affiliated with each order is a set of garment sizes, and patterns for cutting each size. The fabric

for cutting the order must be arranged on the cutting table so that cutting costs will be minimized.

A mathematical model of the problem is developed and analyzed. On the basis of this analysis,

solution approaches are developed which have been implemented on a desktop PC-based

computer. Validated on representative industry problems, the approach is shown to be effective

and versatile.

Keywords

Apparel, manufacturing, process flow, model, heuristics, knapsack problem

* This research was supported by the Defense Logistics Agency under contract number DLA900-

87-D-0018-0012 and by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

1.0 Introduction

In striving for international competitiveness, the apparel industry is faced with improving

productivity and responsiveness in the face of challenging new economic realities. The

capabilities of automation and system flexibility must be fully exploited in order to obtain

responsive and economical production of apparel products. Due to the higher dynamics and

complexities in today's systems, an efficient and effective design for the cutting room system is

paramount. This paper addresses the initial problem faced by planners in the cutting room

system, which we call Cut Order Planning. This problem involves planning the configuration of

a set of customer orders in such a way as to minimize the costs to cut the orders.

Like many domestic manufacturers competing in today's international marketplace, the apparel

industry has been forced to upgrade its responsiveness to customer needs. As a result, smaller

orders are placed in a more dynamic fashion, requiring the efficient production of smaller lot

sizes. Effective and economical production thus depends upon the interaction of many system

components, one of the most critical being an efficient workflow control system.

Cut order planning (COP) is an important linkage in the workflow control system. As illustrated

in Figure 1, COP is one of the initial stages in the introduction or release of work-in-process

(WIP) into the assembly system. COP occurs for each order to be produced, and is the starting

point in the manufacture of the order. COP is the activity of planning the cutting of the order, as

input into the marker making stage (where the layout of pattern pieces on the fabric is designed)

so that the cutting room receives complete spreading and cutting instructions. Once the cutting

operation produces bundles of cut pieces, they are moved through the assembly system in

operation precedence order.

There are three major contributions in this work. Our work establishes that in many cases

the fabric cost is the dominant determinant of the cut order planning solution, a critical result

which substantiates the intuition of experienced industry planners. In addition, the paper presents

the first known attempt to model the cut order planning problem. A mathematical model is

formulated and the problem is shown to be NP-complete, indicating the need to use heuristics for

reasonable solution times. The third contribution of this paper is the development of appropriate

heuristic solution methods that are evaluated using industry data. We present a solution that is

able to outperform any of the others, including those used in contemporary commercial software

packages.

These contributions, when implemented in the apparel industry, make a giant step

forward in improving the cutting room system operation. To further the application to automated

systems, this work will be extended to include a planning system for the entire cutting room, by

integrating the various processes within the cutting room and with other areas of the factory, and

by implementing the methodology in the industry

The cut order planning process is a dynamic one. The function must respond to the ever

changing status of many critical factors such as sales, inventory levels, raw materials, and labor

and equipment availability. The variety of sizes, styles, fabrics, and colors induces significant

complexity into the problem. Adding to the complexity, and thus potentially increasing total

production costs, are setup, or changeover costs, the question of appropriate lot sizes, and the

necessity to meet customer demand competitively.

2

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Current industry approaches for performing COP range from manual ad hoc procedures to

customized proprietary software. Many apparel manufacturing facilities are still using very

unsophisticated methods, depending on the expertise of one individual who has the necessary

data and decision-making tools only in his or her memory. Profit margins in this industry

severely limit capital investment, resulting in few resources for computing equipment.

Commercial software has been developed to solve COP, but effective application requires

extensive customization and the necessary hardware for implementation. Therefore, due to

industry limitations, simple methodologies which produce “good” solutions rather than

complicated “optimal” ones will have the highest impact on improving the operation of the cut

order planning process.

We found no previous papers for solving COP in the archival literature. In this research, we have

addressed three major thrusts, with the final goal being a reasonable, and easily implementable,

solution method for COP. Our work began with developing an in-depth understanding of COP

and the examination of existing commercial software packages for solving it, including a

comparative analysis of their performances. This analysis was performed using testbed data

representative of specific industrial problems. The second thrust included formulating a

mathematical model of the cut order planning process, and analyzing the complexity of the

problem. On the basis of our understanding of this model and the results from thrust one, several

heuristic algorithms for solving COP were developed in the third phase of the project. These

solution approaches were tested on representative industry problems, and the results indicate the

algorithms are important for future COP systems, toward the improvement of productivity and

the competitiveness of apparel manufacturing. Specific details of the various topics presented

throughout this paper can be found in [6].

The paper is organized as follows. In Section 2.0, the COP problem is defined and a

corresponding mathematical model is developed. Our analysis of the model provides insight for

algorithm development, with solution approaches described in Section 3.0. In the subsequent

section we report the performance of the algorithms on a representative problem provided by a

manufacturing partner. The paper concludes with a summary and overall insights detailed in

Section 5.0.

3

2.0. PROBLEM DEFINITION

2.1. Problem Description

In the conventional scope of cut order planning, the problem begins with a given set of orders to

be cut. The order is composed of a set of garments to be manufactured, in varying sizes. Each

garment will be referred to as a unit. The various units in the various sizes must be partitioned in

such a way that efficient cutting of the order can take place. The cut order plan is a specification

for spreading the fabric and assigning the units to various sections of the spread.

The cut is performed by spreading fabric onto a table. The spread is divided into sections.

Sections contain different combination of sizes to be cut, and have varying number of layers, or

plies, of fabric for cutting efficiency. Such a spread is illustrated in Figure 2. Note that using

various size

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combinations within a /HQJWK

section implies one 3O\ +HLJKW

could cut a single size,

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a mixture of different /HQJWK /HQJWK /HQJWK

sizes, or a mixture of 3O\ +HLJKW 3O\ +HLJKW 3O\ +HLJKW

sizes that could include

more than one of the

same size. For

example, a section

could be planned for

cutting two “larges.”

This means the pattern /HQJWK IHHW

pieces for two large C u tting Tab le

garments would be

needed for cutting that Figure 2. Fabric spread on the cutting table in varying ply heights.

section. This idea is

illustrated in Figure 3.

To determine the configuration for a fabric spread, the sizes in the order must be partitioned in

such a way that the order is complete, and that fabric use is minimized. For a further example,an

order might consist of 110 pairs of jeans, with 30 smalls (S), 50 mediums (M), and 30 larges (L).

One way of planning the cut would be to spread two sections. In the first section we would cut

only size M jeans, with ply height 20. This would yield 20 of the 50 pairs of jeans ordered.

Then we would cut all three sizes, S, M, & L, in section 2, with ply height 30. This would yield

the 30 S and 30 L ordered,

and the remaining 30 M

needed to complete the order

size of 50. Clearly there are

many other configurations L M

which could be made. One L S M

must choose the solution S

yielding the least costly

cutting process. F ig u re 3 . A m a rk e r c o n ta in in g tw o u n its o f th e sa m e siz e .

4

Note that we are not concerned here with designing the exact layout of the pattern pieces for the

cutting of the jeans. If we plan to cut only “mediums” in section 1, we need to know

approximately how much fabric is required to do that, but traditionally that quantity is often

estimated. If such a layout has been done before, historical data can be substituted for estimates.

The actual layout of the pattern pieces which is used to guide the cutter is called a marker, and

the marker making process is a variation of the well-known stock cutting problem. (e.g., [1], [2],

[4], [5], [6], and [8].). In current practice, the marker making process is performed independently

of and subsequent to the COP process.

The spread length of a cut is the total length of all sections, as they are laid out end-to-end on the

cutting table. Note in the example in Figure 2, the spread length is equivalent to the length of the

cutting table, which serves as a physical upper bound on the many possible values for spread

length. The perimeter length of a pattern piece is the total number of inches in the perimeter of

that piece. The input to the COP problem consists of:

z The sizes required for the order,

z The quantity of each size to be cut,

z The total perimeter inches of each pattern piece required for the cut,

z The total area of the pattern pieces required for the cut, and

z The standards for spreading (marker fixed costs, marker variable costs, cost to copy,

minimum and maximum plies, number of sizes per marker, cutting costs, cutting

speed, and cutting setup).

The output from the COP process then consists of the following:

z The sizes to be combined in each section of the marker,

z The estimated efficiency of the marker (in percent of fabric utilization),

z The cutting cost per unit (garment),

z The total perimeter to be cut, and

z The total area to be cut.

The objective of the cut order planning problem is to minimize costs, which introduces a need for

a tradeoff between cutting costs and fabric costs. The key decisions to be made are (1) the

number of sections required to fill the order, (2) ply height in each section, and (3) the sizes to be

cut in each section. The determination of (3) provides the input to the marker making function

for actual design of the marker itself.

2.2 Mathematical Model

Parameters

Consider an order to be cut consisting of sizes s = 1, 2, ..., S. The notation ds will represent the

number of units of size s required to fill the order. The marker for the order will contain sections

j = 1, 2, ..., J. The combination and multiples of sizes used in a section of the marker is indexed

by i. An example (for sizes small, medium and large) is partially illustrated in Table 1 on the

following page.

5

Table 1. Size Combination Example

i size combination

1 1 small, 1 medium

2 1 large

3 1 medium, 1 large

4 3 mediums

5 2 smalls, 1 medium

etc.

The possible size combinations consist of the single individual sizes, as well as multiples

of the individual sizes, and combinations of the single and multiple sizes. The total number of

these size combinations is represented by I, a very large number. For example, for an order

containing six sizes, the number of combinations is O(107). The magnitude of I can be

significantly reduced by limiting the number of sizes allowed to be combined in a section. Other

problem parameters are:

li = estimated fabric length required to cut size combination i;

or the exact length required if a marker for combination i already exists.

ei = number of cutting inches to cut size combination i.

Mi = increased cost of marker making due to size combination i.

dsi = number of units of size s in size combination i.

c = fabric cost per length unit (normally yards or meters).

P = maximum allowable ply height.

L = maximum allowable spread length.

T = labor cost for time required to spread one length of the table.

U = cost per perimeter length unit for cutting.

δs = number of units production permitted over or under the total units in the order

Decision Variables

There are two sets of integer decision variables representing the ply height of a section

and the assignment of sizes to a section.

yj = ply height of section j, yj = 0, 1, 2, ..., P.

if size combination i is assigned to section j

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Objective

The objective of the cut order planning problem is to minimize the total cost of cutting the order,

including the cost of fabric and labor. Specifically, these costs are actual fabric costs, spreading

costs, cutting costs and the impact on marker making costs.

A. Fabric Cost: The term c li is the fabric cost of one layer of size combination i in any

section. Thus, the total fabric cost over all sections j and all size combinations i is:

J I

∑ ∑ cli yj xij.

j=1 i=1

B. Spreading Cost: The variable li is the length of fabric required to cut size combination i in

li

any section. Thus, L is the fraction of the table length needed in spreading the section for size

li

combination i in any section and T L is the labor cost for spreading a one-ply section containing

li

size combination i. Hence, T L yj is the total cost of spreading size combination i in section j,

and the objective function term for spreading cost is:

J I li

∑ ∑ T L yj xij.

j=1 i=1

C. Cutting Cost: The term Uei is the cost of cutting size combination i, and the objective

function term is:

J I

∑ ∑ Ueixij.

j=1 i=1

D. Increased Marker Making Cost: The total increased cost of marker making is expressed in

the objective function by the term:

J I

∑ ∑ Mi xij.

j=1 i=1

If the marker already exists, the cost of determining the marker length is simply based on the

minor costs of storage and retrieval. However, if such a marker does not exist, the cost increases

due to the expanded time needed from a skilled operator for designing the marker and then

transferring the data to the COP function.

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J I li

Minimize Z = ∑ ∑ [ c li yj xij + T L yj xij + Mixij + U ei xij ]

j=1 i=1

J I li

OR Minimize Z = ∑ ∑ [ c li yj + T L yj + Mi + U ei ] xij

j=1 i=1

Constraints

A demand constraint is required for the order to be filled, i.e.the total number of units planned

for should be equal to the total number of units ordered. This is expressed as:

J I

(A) ∑ ∑ dsiyjxij = ds ∀ s

j=1 i=1

Note that if production over or under the specified order (overages or underages) is allowed,

constraint (A) can be modified accordingly.

Table length constraint. The following constraint restricts the total length of the marker to be

less than or equal to the physical length of the cutting table.

J I

(B) ∑ ∑ li xij ≤ L

j=1 i=1

The marker is made up of all the planned sections in their varying ply heights.

Enforce the upper bound on ply height. The constraint is represented as:

(C) yj ≤ P ∀j

This constraint is needed since both manual and automatic cutters have limited capacity in the

thickness of fabric which can be cut.

Variable restriction constraints. Decision variable yj is restricted to be a positive integer, less

than or equal to the maximum ply height, and xij is restricted to a binary variable.

8

The model as presented above is difficult to solve using standard mathematical programming

methods. Both the objective function and the constraints in (A) contain nonlinear terms. The

model can be linearized, using a variable substitution as follows:

= the number of replicates (layers) of size combination i which will be cut in section j

It should be clear from the definition of yj and xij that zij is either 0 or the ply height of

section j. Implementing this substitution results in the following linear integer model for the Cut

Order Planning problem:

The COP Model

J I li

Minimize Z = ∑ ∑ [ c li + T L ] zij + [ Mi + U ei ] xij (1)

j=1 i=1

Subject to:

J I

∑ ∑ dsi zij + δs = ds ∀ s Demand Constraint (2)

j=1 i=1

J I

∑ ∑ li xij ≤ L Table Length Constraint (3)

j=1 i=1

xij ∈ {0, 1} ∀ i,j (6)

In summary, our model states that we will minimize the cost of cutting a set of orders (1), and in

so doing will meet customer demand (2), will not exceed the table length constraint (3), and will

respect ply height and size combination restrictions (4). In the next section, this model is useful

in discerning the mathematical complexity of COP, and will be useful for algorithmic

development described in Section 3.0.

The COP model is very difficult to solve to optimality when the parameters are of realistic size.

Intuitively this difficulty can be explained by pointing out that the number of solutions grows

exponentially as the size of the problem increases, and therefore the time to search among all

feasible solutions for the best one also grows exponentially in the size of the problem. Having

modeled COP with an integer program bearing no exploitable structure for ready solution

provides further evidence of the difficulty of the problem. In fact, COP is NP-complete. The

proof is provided in Appendix A.

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3.0. Heuristics

Since the Cut Order Planning problem is NP-Complete, efficient algorithms for realistically sized

problems will necessarily be heuristic in nature. This insight leads to the need for analyzing the

COP model for characteristics that can be exploited for development of heuristic methods. This

section describes the heuristics developed for COP, the reasoning behind these types of

algorithms, and justification for the evaluation techniques.

Heuristic development is based on the examination of typical industry cases that COP cost

(equation 1) is dominated by total fabric length. Section 4.1 explains the experimental design

which we used to establish this characteristic of the cost function. It should be noted that in

some cases the cost factors we consider in the model developed in Section 2.2 may play a

significant role in the cost of cut order planning. For example, spreading costs may be very high

due to negotiated labor rates, cutting costs may be driven up by manual or equipment parameters,

or a large data base of historical markers may not exist, greatly increasing the cost of that

process. However, we assume the statistical results, which confirm practitioners' intuitions, are

valid for the types of problems addressed by our work, and therefore the model in Section 2.2 can

be modified to reflect this assumption.

Note that under this assumption the only change in the model occurs in the objective function,

where all terms go to zero except those involving the fabric length parameters. An alternative

method for problem solution is to solve the linear relaxation and check the resulting solution for

satisfaction of the integer constraints. However, this approach is not practical: for realistically

sized problems the number of variables, zij, prohibits explicit computation. Furthermore, most

apparel manufacturers who would use these solution methods do not have sufficient computing

capability on-site to utilize sophisticated integer programming solvers.

Therefore, the development of heuristic algorithms to solve COP focuses on finding

computationally efficient procedures for finding good (i.e., relatively low cost) solutions to COP

for a robust set of problem instances. We have selected two types of algorithms for development

of such heuristics, constructive and improvement. A constructive algorithm takes the input

data and builds a feasible solution using intuition, clues from the spatial aspects of the problem,

and guidelines found in the mathematical model. An improvement algorithm begins with an

existing feasible solution and attempts to change the solution in some manner so that the cost of

the solution is reduced while feasibility is maintained. The value of the cost function associated

with the feasible solution produced by one of these heuristic methods can then be compared with

some numerical bound, or other benchmark solutions.

There are three greedy heuristics presented in this section. Two of these algorithms, Savings and

Cherry Picking, are constructive in nature. The Savings heuristic assigns size combinations to a

section based on the fabric savings achieved by combining them into one section as opposed to

having them assigned to separate sections. The Cherry Picking algorithm builds sections by

combining certain sizes based on the best utilization of fabric. The algorithm picks the first and

second most numerous sizes in the order and places those in sections first, then repeats until all

sizes are assigned to a section. The third heuristic is an improvement heuristic rather that a

constructive one. The Improvement algorithm takes a current solution and tries to improve it by

10

exchanging sizes in different sections or by combining existing sections into one section. These

three methods are detailed in Table 2 and the paragraphs following the table.

Table 2. A Summary of COP Heuristic Algorithms

0 Begin with no units Begin with no units assigned to a Begin with all units assigned to a

assigned to a section. section. section.

1 Assign each unit to a Let q1 be the largest quantity of any Consider the next portion of one

separate section, using the size remaining in the order, and q2 be section.

initial ply height of 1. the second largest, where q2 < q1. If

there is no such q2, then set q2 = q1.

Form set S by selecting all sizes

remaining that have a quantity greater

than or equal to q2.

2 For each pair of sections, The new section will have ply height Attempt to reassign the portion from

compute a list of savings* = min{q2, max ply height}. Combine its original section to one or more of

(see below) achieved by the sizes from set S to minimize the remaining sections, satisfying

combining them into a fabric use. All combinations of the the feasibility checks** (see below)

single section. sizes in set S should be considered listed on the next page. If feasible to

that do not exceed the maximum reassign, compute the savings* (see

number of sizes allowed per section. below) that would be achieved by

making the reassignment.

3 Feasibly merge sections Reduce the order demand quantities Perform the reassignment based on

based on the maximum for the sizes in set S by q2. the best savings computed.

savings achievable. Start over at Step 1.

4. Continue merging other If the order contains a size with The iterations must be tracked. In

sections with this one until positive quantity larger than the the current iteration, if there are no

it contains the maximum number of units allowed under the improvements after examining all

number of units. This specified demand, go to step 1. possible exchanges, then the

section is saved and algorithm terminates.

becomes ineligible for

further merges.

5 After k mergers in Step 3,

update the savings list (k

being an arbitrary input

factor).

6. Continue until no more

savings can be achieved or

no mergers are possible.

11

All algorithms were coded in ANSI Standard C and implemented on a DOS-based IBM PC

platform. The results described in the Section 4.0 were obtained with a 386/20MHz processor,

with each solution completed in less than ten minutes.

*Savings Computation: Step 2 of the savings algorithm and Step 3 of the Improvement

algorithm require a computation of savings achieved for combining two sections into one.

Described below are the details of this computation, based of whether or not the two sections to

be combined contain the same set of sizes, denoted Case A and Case B.

Case A: The two sections contain exactly the same size(s). The merger can be accomplished in

one of two ways:

(i) Increase ply height by spreading one section on top of the other and making no change to the

size combination in the section, as illustrated in

Figure 4. Note the length of fabric required for

L L

the section is the same before and after the

merger, and hence has no

effect on the cost savings for the merger.

Therefore if only fabric cost is being considered, L

the savings for this case is equal to zero. L

e represent the number of cutting inches in the

pattern (i)for the size combination in the two

sections being considered. Then e is also the L

section as well. Recall that U = cutting cost per

inch.

Figure 4. Illustration of Case A

Thus, Ue + Ue = cost of cutting the two unmerged sections, and Ue = cost of cutting the merged

sections. Hence, under this consideration, Ue = the savings in cost obtained by merging the two

sections.

(ii) Changing the size combination, leaving the ply height the same, as illustrated in Figure 5.

Here the savings will be the decreased cost of fabric required for spreading the merged

sections.

Assume the following notation:

li1 = length of fabric required to cut one layer of the 1st unmerged section,

li2 = length of fabric required to cut one layer of the 2nd unmerged section,

li3 = length of fabric required to cut one layer of the 3rd merged section, and

p = ply height of the unmerged and merged sections.

Recall that c is the unit cost of fabric.

12

Then, the savings can be computed as cp(li1

+ li2 - li3).

L

L

Case B: The two sections do not contain the same size(s). Figure 6 illustrates this case. (i)

If the ply heights are the same, this case is precisely the same as case A(ii). We simply merge

the size combinations, leaving the ply height unchanged. Then, the savings can be computed as

cp(li1 + li2 - li3).

(ii) If the two sections do not contain the same size and have different ply heights. The only

way to merge two such sections is to merge the

size combinations, choosing the ply height so

L L that overages or underages are minimized.

This again is the same as case A(ii). Hence the

savings computation is cp(li1 + li2 - li3). If

overages/underages are not allowed, this option

is simply denoted infeasible, and the savings

computation is equal to zero.

**Feasibility Checks for the Improvement

Algorithm: The feasibility of such mergers is

based on two conditions:

L

(1) Will the maximum number of sizes allowed

per section be violated? If so, do not

merge.

Figure 6. Illustration of Case B

(2) Will the maximum number of units over and under the demand be violated? If so, do not

merge.

4.1. Testbed Data

We developed a set of problems representative of an industrial application to evaluate the

performance of the heuristic algorithms. These problems were based on a problem provided by

an apparel manufacturer, and were structured with test cases to examine the robustness of the

13

algorithms relative to various problem instances. The testbed data contains twenty problems,

which range from one to six sizes per order. The various parameters of the problem were varied

according to the experimental design described below. These factors are listed in Table 3.

Estimated marker lengths for the various size combinations were obtained using a COP

commercial software package.

Label

A Fabric Cost $0.50 or $10.00

B Number of Pieces in the Order 48 or 1200

C Distribution of Sizes In Order uniform or non-uniform

D Number Sizes Within Order 1 or 6

E Cutting Labor Cost $10 or $30

F Spreading Labor Cost $8 or $25

G Maximum Ply Height 47 m or 108 m

H Order Filling Requirements exact or approximate

I,J,K Estimating Sample Error

To facilitate the experimental trials, two order types, normal and pathological, were defined. We

used the normal orders to represent typical industrial problems, and, in this case, implying that

both ply height and order quantities are multiples of twelve. We chose pathological orders to test

algorithmic performance on odd numerical combinations, in this case, ply height and/or order

quantities which are not multiples of twelve. Three normal orders and two pathological orders

were created. For these five orders, three alternative ply heights were specified for different runs.

In addition, the results from the algorithms were recorded before and after the improvement

algorithm was applied. These various combinations of the problem parameters resulted in twenty

problem instances, presented in Table 4. In addition to the results shown in this table, one more

trial was run with all factors set at their "high" settings in order to perform validation of the

model results.

14

Table 4. Experimental Problem Instances

Improvem

ent

Problem Normal Order Ply

Algorithm

Instance d1/d2/d3/d4/d5/d6 Pathological Order Height Applied?

1 72/144/360/360/144/72 48 No

2 72/144/360/360/144/72 48 Yes

3 72/144/360/360/144/72 108 No

4 72/144/360/360/144/72 108 Yes

5 0/0/0/0/960/240 48 No

6 0/0/0/0/960/240 48 Yes

7 0/0/0/0/960/240 108 No

8 0/0/0/0/960/240 108 Yes

9 0/0/0/0/1200/0 48 No

10 0/0/0/0/1200/0 48 Yes

11 0/0/0/0/1200/0 108 No

12 0/0/0/0/1200/0 108 Yes

13 163/239/599/45/124/30 47 No

14 163/239/599/45/124/30 47 Yes

15 163/239/599/45/124/30 108 No

16 163/239/599/45/124/30 108 Yes

17 200/200/200/200/200/200 47 No

18 200/200/200/200/200/200 47 Yes

19 200/200/200/200/200/200 108 No

20 200/200/200/200/200/200 108 Yes

We used this testbed data to obtain results for the various problem instances using two

commercial software packages which are widely applied to solve the COP in industrial settings.

The seven performance measures of interest were as follows:

15

1. Total Cost ($)

2. Number of Patterns

3. Number of Sections

4. Total Ply Count

5. Number Units Over Demand Required

6. Number Units Under Demand Required

7. Fabric Utilization

Using the output from the trial runs, we performed a statistical analysis based on a 12-run

Plackett-Burman [9] design. The analysis indicated the performance measures were not sensitive

to most of the factors shown in Table 3. The most conclusive finding of the analysis is the

significantly large impact of the cost of fabric on the total cost of the cut order planning process.

Not only does this conclusion make logical sense from the problem environment, but is a fact

which can be capitalized upon for solution of the cut order planning problem. Since fabric cost is

directly related to fabric length, we used the criterion of total fabric length alone to compare the

performance of the algorithms. The remainder of this section will describe the results of our

experimental study to examine the performance of the COP algorithms.

The performances of the algorithms described in Section 3.0 were compared to each other and to

the results obtained from two commercial COP packages. Additionally, we applied the

improvement algorithm to all of these solutions, as well as to randomly generated solutions.

To illustrate the results, the normal orders with ply height 48 are given in Figures 7 and 8. In

Figure 7, the solutions denoted “Improvement” are the result of applying the improvement

algorithm to an initial solution composed of each size in the marker in a separate section of the

marker. Note that in each case this solution is relatively close to the best of all the others.

Solutions for the problems with ply height 108 and normal orders are similar and consistent with

these results.

Figures 9 and 10 show the objective solution value for the pathological orders with ply height 47

before and after improvement, respectively. Similar results were obtained for the pathological

orders with ply height 108. These figures are displayed on the following pages.

16

N O R M A L O R D ER S

P LY H E IG H T 48 P kg B

S av in gs

20 000 C h erry

P kg A

19 000 Im pro vem en t

18 000

17 000

In che s

16 000

15 000

14 000

1 2 3

72/144/360/144/72 0/0/0/0/960/240 0/0/0/0/1200/0

O rd ers

Figure 7. Total Fabric Inches for Normal Orders with Ply Height 48

IM P R O V ED N O R M A L O R D E R S

P LY H E IG H T 48

20000

Im pro ved S avin g s

Im pro ved C h erry

18000

Im pro ved P kg A

In ch es

17000

16000

15000

14000

1 2 3

72/144/360/360/144/72 0/0/0/0/960/240 0/0/0/0/1200/0

O rd ers

Figure 8. Total Fabric Inches for Improved Normal Orders with Ply Height 48

17

P A TH O LO G IC A L O R D E R S

P LY H E IG H T 47

200 00

190 00 P kg B

S av in gs

180 00 C h erry

P kg A

170 00 Im pro vem en t

In ch es

160 00

150 00

140 00

1 2

163/239/599/45/124/30 200/200/200/200/200/200

O rd ers

Figure 9. Total Fabric Inches for Pathological Orders with Ply Height 47

Figure 10. Total Fabric Inches for Improved Pathological Orders with Ply Height 47

18

4.3 Interpretation of Experimental Results

Three primary conclusions can be drawn from the numerical results:

The Savings algorithm performs significantly better than the Cherry Picking algorithm.

The Savings algorithm provides solutions which are as good as or better than the

commercial packages.

The Improvement algorithm is able to make improvements in all solutions, even the

commercial ones. After the improvement algorithm is applied, all solutions are similar

in the total required fabric length.

This research documents the first known experimental verification of fabric cost being the

dominant determinant of the cut order planning solution. This drives home the point that

heuristic solutions, including those used in commercial packages, are critically dependent on the

estimation of fabric length required to cut a particular combination of sizes together in a marker.

Therefore, it is important that this information be obtained from historical data or correctly

estimated by experienced operators. Ideally this data would be available from the actual markers

used in the cutting process.

Major analytical contributions of this paper include the development of a mathematical model

and its complexity analysis, and the improvement algorithm. The mathematical model for the cut

order planning problem is new to the apparel manufacturing literature. The complexity analysis

described in Section 2.2 establishes NP-Completeness. For large scale industry problems, this

means no solution method (including commercial packages), based on current computational

capabilities is likely to guarantee mathematically optimal COP solutions. Simple heuristic

methods were shown to be at least as good as the commercial packages, and an improvement

algorithm was developed which increased fabric utilization when applied to solutions obtained

from commercial software. Exhibiting versatility, this method was able to produce solutions

from a random starting solution which were essentially equivalent to improved solutions from

commercial packages and other simple heuristics. This means that COP can be solved easily by

anyone with a desktop computer, an improvement algorithm, and accurate information for

marker lengths.

The cut order planning problem as addressed here is performed independently of downstream

production considerations. This is done even though the output of COP is the direct input for

marker making and the cutting room. Given the ever changing status of current orders, current

work-in-process (WIP) in the system, and production configuration, there is a significant

opportunity to make the production system more efficient and responsive by better coordination

of dynamic, integrated planning and scheduling of WIP release, WIP movement, and

configuration of the associated flexible production capacity. For these reasons, it is

recommended that future COP research extend this work to capitalize on the adaptive capabilities

of the improvement algorithm. Such extensions should explicitly include material flow control

considerations. This will allow for consideration of the current

status of the assembly operations and the reflection of competing system objectives. This

extension will bring the cut order planning process closer to true integration within the total

production planning process.

19

The results reported here expand readily into the more comprehensive planning environment. An

illustration of this concept is presented in Figure 11.

D e cis io n : W h ic h o rd e r(s ) s h o u ld C a p a citie s , W o rk sta tio n la din g

b e p ro c e s s e d this tim e p e rio d ? & W orkflo w ?

C o n v e n tio n a l C O P

D e te rm in e : W h ich o rd e rs to c u t to ge th e r A lso in clu d e :

N u m b e r o f s e c tio ns M in to ta l in ve n tory co s ts ,

W h ic h s iz e s in e a c h s e c tio n ra w m a te ria ls , W IP ,

S e ctio n ply h e ig h t & le n gth fin is h e d go o d s

M in im iz e C o sts : F a b ric, C u ttin g & M a x th ru p u t a t s h o p floo r

S p re a d in g la b o r, a n d M a x u tiliz a tio n o f

M a rk e r M a kin g im p a c t re s ou rc e s: E qu ip m e n t,

S u b je ct to : S p re a d in g re s tric tio n s m a te ria ls , p e o p le , e tc .

H um an S c he d u lin g T oo ls, in c lu d in g

S u p e rv iso r E v alu a tio n & S e ns itiviy ;

A id D e c is io n M a ke r

M a rk e r M a k in g S h o p F lo o r P la n n in g S h o p F lo o r R e a l T im e

C o n tro l

20

APPENDIX

Proof of NP-Completeness

We will show our COP model is equivalent to the integral knapsack problem, which is known to

be NP-complete (e.g., [3]). Consider the linearized formulation for COP developed in section

2.2.

J I li

(COP) Minimize ∑ ∑ [ c li + T L ] zij + [ Mi + U ei ] xij

j=1 i=1

Subject to:

J I

∑ ∑ dsi zij + ds = ds ∀s

j=1 i=1

J I

∑ ∑ li xij ≤ L

j=1 i=1

zij ∈ { 0, 1, 2, . . ., P} ∀ i,j

xij ∈ {0, 1} ∀ i,j

(a) c = 0, T = 0, and

(b) all dsi = 0 and δs = ds.

Let Mi + U ei = Wi, ∀ i. The model for this special case then becomes:

J I

(SCOP) Minimize ∑ ∑ Wi xij

j=1 i=1

Subject to:

21

J I

∑ ∑ li xij ≤ L

j=1 i=1

J

Now let ui ∈ Z+ where ui = ∑ xij. The SCOP formulation becomes the following:

j=1

I

(K) Minimize ∑ wi ui

i=1

Subject to:

li ui ≤ L

ui ≤ J∀i, ui ∈ Z+

K is the formulation for an integral knapsack problem, and so is NP-complete (e.g., [3]).

J

If we let ui = ∑ xij, then ui is feasible in K.

j=1

Proof:

I I

(1) ui = ∑ xij ≤ ∑ 1 [xij ∈ {0,1}]

i=1 i=1

= J

=> ui ≤ J, ∀ i

22

I I J I J

(2) ∑ liui = ∑ li ∑ xij = ∑ ∑ li xij ≤ L.

i=1 i=1 j=1 i=1 j=1

J

(3) ui = ∑ xij ∈ Z+

j=1

If ui = 0 let xij = 0 ∀j

If ui = d ≠ 0, let xi1 = xi2 = . . . = xid = 1

xij = 0 for j > d.

J

Observe that ∑ xij = ui.

j=1

Proof:

I J I J I

(2) ∑ ∑ li xij = ∑ li ∑ xij = ∑ li ui ≤ L.

i=1 j=1 i=1 j=1 i=1

With I and II we have shown that feasible solutions to K are also feasible in SCOP. Since K is

NP-complete, then so is SCOP. Since SCOP is a special case of COP, then COP is also NP-

complete.

23

Acknowledgments

The contributions of the following people are gratefully acknowledged. We would like to

recognize Mr. Bill Warden, who worked tirelessly to perform the computational work for the

Plackett-Burman study. Also we offer many thanks to Dr. Donna Llewellyn, in the School of

Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, for her development of the complexity

proof. We offer our gratitude to the two apparel vendors (who wish to remain anonymous) for

providing us with their software for use in this work, and to Ms. Cynthia Holeridge from a very

helpful apparel manufacturer who spent long periods on the telephone with us to provide and

validate our testbed data. Other thanks go to Randolph Case of the Georgia Tech Research

Institute for moral support as well as for giving us his best graduate student for this project. At

the Apparel Demonstration Center on the Southern Tech Campus, many instances of help and

assistance are cited. Our thanks to Dale Stewart and Carol Ring, at the Demonstration Center,

for their patience and assistance. The presentation has been significantly improved by the

helpful comments of the associate editor and three anonymous referees. Finally, we must

acknowledge the interest and encouragement in this work by our sponsor's representatives,

Donald O'Brien, Dan Gearing, Helen Kerlin, and Julie Tsau. This work was supported by the

Defense Logistics Agency under contract number DLA-87-D-0018-0012.

24

References

[1]Eilon, S. and N. Christofides, 1971, "The Loading Problem," Management Science, 17, 259-

267.

Industry, 1998, " Journal of the Operational Research Society, 39, 1, 41-53.

[3] Garey, Michael R. and David S. Johnson, 1979, Computers and Intractability, A Guide to the

Theory of NP-Completeness. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York.

[4]Gilmore and Gomory, 1961, "A Linear Programming Approach to the Cutting Stock

Problem," Operations Research, 9, 349-359.

[5]Hinxman, "The Trim-loss and Assortment Problems: A Survey," 1980, European Journal of

Operational Research, 5, 8-18.

Algorithms," 1974, SIAM Journal of Computing, 3, 299-325.

[7] Jacobs-Blecha, C., Ammons, J.C., Smith, T., Baker, A. and Warden, B., "Cut Order

Planning," 1990, Final Technical Report, Contract No, DLA900-87-D-0018-0012.

[8]Jacobs-Blecha, C. and Riall, W., 1991, "The Feasibility of Improving the Marker Making

Process," International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, 3, 4, 13-24.

Biometrica, Vol. 3, pp. 305-325.

25

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