A near Optimal Cane Rail Scheduler under Limited and Unlimited Capacity Constraints

Masoud, Mahmoud Mohammed Abd Alla, Kozan, Erhan, & Kent, Geoffrey (2015) A near Optimal Cane Rail Scheduler under Limited and Unlimited Capacity Constraints. In Proceedings of 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, Gold Coast- Australia, pp. 1738-1744.



Australia is the world’s third largest exporter of raw sugar after Brazil and Thailand, with around $2.0 billion in export earnings. Transport systems play a vital role in the raw sugar production process by transporting the sugarcane crop between farms and mills. In 2013, 87 per cent of sugarcane was transported to mills by cane railway. The total cost of sugarcane transport operations is very high. Over 35% of the total cost of sugarcane production in Australia is incurred in cane transport. A cane railway network mainly involves single track sections and multiple track sections used as passing loops or sidings. The cane railway system performs two main tasks: delivering empty bins from the mill to the sidings for filling by harvesters; and collecting the full bins of cane from the sidings and transporting them to the mill. A typical locomotive run involves an empty train (locomotive and empty bins) departing from the mill, traversing some track sections and delivering bins at specified sidings. The locomotive then, returns to the mill, traversing the same track sections in reverse order, collecting full bins along the way. In practice, a single track section can be occupied by only one train at a time, while more than one train can use a passing loop (parallel sections) at a time. The sugarcane transport system is a complex system that includes a large number of variables and elements. These elements work together to achieve the main system objectives of satisfying both mill and harvester requirements and improving the efficiency of the system in terms of low overall costs. These costs include delay, congestion, operating and maintenance costs. An effective cane rail scheduler will assist the traffic officers at the mill to keep a continuous supply of empty bins to harvesters and full bins to the mill with a minimum cost. This paper addresses the cane rail scheduling problem under rail siding capacity constraints where limited and unlimited siding capacities were investigated with different numbers of trains and different train speeds. The total operating time as a function of the number of trains, train shifts and a limited number of cane bins have been calculated for the different siding capacity constraints. A mathematical programming approach has been used to develop a new scheduler for the cane rail transport system under limited and unlimited constraints. The new scheduler aims to reduce the total costs associated with the cane rail transport system that are a function of the number of bins and total operating costs. The proposed metaheuristic techniques have been used to find near optimal solutions of the cane rail scheduling problem and provide different possible solutions to avoid being stuck in local optima. A numerical investigation and sensitivity analysis study is presented to demonstrate that high quality solutions for large scale cane rail scheduling problems are obtainable in a reasonable time. Keywords: Cane railway, mathematical programming, capacity, metaheuristics

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ID Code: 91032
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Cane railway, mathematical programming, capacity, metaheuristics
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
Current > Schools > School of Mathematical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 07 Dec 2015 06:12
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2015 20:54

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