Logistics optimisation of slab pre-marshalling problem in steel industry

© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. We study the slab pre-marshalling problem to re-position slabs in a way that the slabs are stored in the least number of stacks and each stack contains only the slabs of the same group, which can be utilised interchangeably. In this way, when a slab of any group is required, the topmost slab can always be picked up without shuffling. During pre-marshalling, however, at most two slabs can be moved by one operation. In this paper, we present a network model with three valid inequalities to solve this problem. With a small amount of labelled data from the model approach, a self-training technique is applied to train a function for predicting the best next move. Then, a new hybrid algorithm is developed to solve the practical problems by combining the self-training technique, heuristics, and the branch-and-bound algorithm with five dominance rules. The experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of this network model and valid inequalities, and the performances of different components of this algorithm. The new algorithm produces high-quality solutions within seconds.