Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.22.6.629

In the past few years, increasing numbers of automatic warehousing systems using computer-controlled stacker cranes have been installed. Our research concerns the scientific scheduling and design of these systems. There are three elements to scheduling: the assignment of multiple items to the same pallet (Pallet Assignment); the assignment of pallet loads to storage locations (Storage Assignment); and rules for sequencing storage and retrieve requests (Interleaving). This paper deals with optimal storage assignment. Results are obtained which compare the operating performance of three storage assignment rules: random assignment, which is similar to the closest-open-location rule used by many currently operating systems; full turnover-based assignment: and class-based turnover assignment. It is shown that significant reductions in crane travel time (and distance) are obtainable from turnover-based rules. These improvements can, under certain circumstances, be directly translated into increased throughput capacity for existing systems, and may be used to alter the design (e.g., size and number of racks, speed of cranes, etc.) of proposed systems in order to achieve a more desirable system balance between throughput and storage capacity.

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