Two local search approaches for solving real-life car sequencing problems
The NP-hard problem of car sequencing appears as the heart of the logistic process of many car manufacturers. The subject of the ROADEF'2005 challenge addressed a car sequencing problem proposed by the car manufacturer RENAULT, more complex than the academic problem generally addressed in the literature. This paper describes two local search approaches for this problem. In the first part, a new approach by very large-scale neighborhood search is presented. This approach, designed during the qualification stage preceding the final, is based on an original integer linear programming formulation. The second part is dedicated to the approach which enabled us to win the ROADEF'2005 challenge. Inspired by the latest works on the subject, this one is based on very fast explorations of small neighborhoods. Our contribution here is mainly algorithmic, in particular by showing how much exploiting invariants speeds up the neighborhood evaluation and contributes to the diversification of the search. Finally, the two approaches are compared and discussed through an extensive computational study on RENAULT's benchmarks. The main conclusion drawn at this point is that sophisticated metaheuristics are useless to solve car sequencing problems. More generally, our victory on ROADEF'2005 challenge demonstrates that algorithmic aspects, sometimes neglected, remain the key ingredients for designing and engineering high-performance local search heuristics.
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