Sequencing unit-load retrieval requests has been extensively reported on in the literature for conventional single-deep automated warehousing systems. A proper sequence can greatly reduce the makespan when carrying out a group of such requests. Although the sequencing problem is NP-hard, some very good heuristics exist. Surprisingly, the problem has not yet been investigated for compact (multi-deep) storage systems, which have greatly increased in popularity the last decade. This article studies how to sequence a group (or block) of storage and retrieval requests in a multi-deep automated storage system with the objective to minimize the makespan. Currently utilized sequencing heuristics for the multi-deep system are adapted in this article and in addition a new heuristic, Percentage Priority to Retrievals with Shortest Leg (PPR-SL), is proposed and evaluated. It is shown that the PPR-SL heuristic consistently outperforms all of the other heuristics. Generally, it can outperform the benchmark First-Come First-Served (FCFS) heuristic by between 20 and 70%. The nearest neighbor heuristic that performs very well in conventional single-deep storage systems appears to perform poorly in the multi-deep system, even worse than FCFS. In addition, based on FCFS and PPR-SL, robust rack dimensions that yield a short makespan, regardless of the number of storage and retrieval requests, are found.

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IIE Transactions
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Yu, Y, & de Koster, M.B.M. (2012). Sequencing heuristics for storing and retrieving unit loads in 3D compact automated warehousing systems. IIE Transactions, 44(2), 69–87. doi:10.1080/0740817X.2011.575441