Many manufacturing companies produce a large catalog of products for their customers. Despite having different characteristics, several of these products are usually manufactured in a single production plan. For example, 3M’s chemical plant in Flanders produces hundreds of industrial coatings and adhesives, each of which with different characteristics and specifications. In these scenarios, companies have to carefully plan on a regular basis which products are manufactured in the plant and in which order. This should be done taking into account several considerations like the limited resources available, the operating conditions of the plant, the customers’ demand and the total production cost. Designing a plant and scheduling its production efficiently in a real-life environment represent major challenges.
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