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Container Loading Problems - A State-of-the-Art Review


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  • Andreas Bortfeldt

    (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Information Systems)

  • Gerhard Wäscher

    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

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    Container loading is a pivotal function for operating supply chains efficiently. Underperformance results in unnecessary costs (e.g. cost of additional containers to be shipped) and in an unsatisfactory customer service (e.g. violation of deadlines agreed to or set by clients). Thus, it is not surprising that container loading problems have been dealt with frequently in the operations research literature. It has been claimed though that the proposed approaches are of limited practical value since they do not pay enough attention to constraints encountered in practice. In this paper, a review of the state-of-the-art in the field of container loading will be given. We will identify factors which - from a practical point of view - need to be considered when dealing with container loading problems and we will analyze whether and how these factors are represented in methods for the solution of such problems. Modeling approaches, as well as exact and heuristic algorithms will be reviewed. This will allow for assessing the practical relevance of the research which has been carried out in the field. We will also mention several issues which have not been dealt with satisfactorily so far and give an outlook on future research opportunities.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management in its series FEMM Working Papers with number 120007.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:120007

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    Keywords: container loading; cutting; packing; constraints; exact algorithms; heuristics;

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    1. Che, Chan Hou & Huang, Weili & Lim, Andrew & Zhu, Wenbin, 2011. "The multiple container loading cost minimization problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 214(3), pages 501-511, November.
    2. Egeblad, Jens & Garavelli, Claudio & Lisi, Stefano & Pisinger, David, 2010. "Heuristics for container loading of furniture," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 200(3), pages 881-892, February.
    3. Bortfeldt, Andreas & Mack, Daniel, 2007. "A heuristic for the three-dimensional strip packing problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 183(3), pages 1267-1279, December.
    4. Bischoff, E.E., 2006. "Three-dimensional packing of items with limited load bearing strength," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 168(3), pages 952-966, February.
    5. Bortfeldt, Andreas & Gehring, Hermann, 2001. "A hybrid genetic algorithm for the container loading problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 131(1), pages 143-161, May.
    6. Davies, A. Paul & Bischoff, Eberhard E., 1999. "Weight distribution considerations in container loading," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 509-527, May.
    7. Egeblad, Jens & Nielsen, Benny K. & Odgaard, Allan, 2007. "Fast neighborhood search for two- and three-dimensional nesting problems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 183(3), pages 1249-1266, December.
    8. Crainic, Teodor Gabriel & Perboli, Guido & Tadei, Roberto, 2009. "TS2PACK: A two-level tabu search for the three-dimensional bin packing problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 195(3), pages 744-760, June.
    9. Bischoff, E. E. & Ratcliff, M. S. W., 1995. "Issues in the development of approaches to container loading," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 377-390, August.
    10. Faina, Loris, 2000. "A global optimization algorithm for the three-dimensional packing problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 126(2), pages 340-354, October.
    11. Eley, Michael, 2002. "Solving container loading problems by block arrangement," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 393-409, September.
    12. Bischoff, E. E. & Janetz, F. & Ratcliff, M. S. W., 1995. "Loading pallets with non-identical items," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 681-692, August.
    13. Chen, C. S. & Lee, S. M. & Shen, Q. S., 1995. "An analytical model for the container loading problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 68-76, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. de Queiroz, Thiago A. & Miyazawa, Flávio K., 2013. "Two-dimensional strip packing problem with load balancing, load bearing and multi-drop constraints," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 511-530.


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