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Simple Approaches to Shift, Days-Off and Tour Scheduling Problems


  • James G. Morris

    (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

  • Michael J. Showalter

    (Florida State University)


Shift and days-off scheduling problems have received much attention in the literature of integer programming approaches to workforce scheduling. A typical managerial use would be to schedule full-time employees to minimize the number of labor hours while satisfying variable workforce requirements of a service delivery system. We present computational experience to show that an easily implemented application of linear programming frequently produces optimal solutions to these problems. When the context progresses toward a continuous operating environment (service delivery over 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) we stress the need to shed the myopic views of the shift and days-off scheduling formulations in favor of an integrative tour scheduling formulation. For this problem we observe that a simple heuristic initiated by rounding down the associated LP solution consistently produces near optimal solutions. This observation is based on experiments over varying workforce requirement patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • James G. Morris & Michael J. Showalter, 1983. "Simple Approaches to Shift, Days-Off and Tour Scheduling Problems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(8), pages 942-950, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:29:y:1983:i:8:p:942-950

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    Cited by:

    1. Brusco, Michael J. & Johns, Tony R., 1996. "A sequential integer programming method for discontinuous labor tour scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 537-548, December.
    2. Thompson, Gary M. & Pullman, Madeleine E., 2007. "Scheduling workforce relief breaks in advance versus in real-time," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 181(1), pages 139-155, August.
    3. Valls, Vicente & Angeles Perez, M. & Sacramento Quintanilla, M., 1998. "Pre-processing techniques for resource allocation in the heterogeneous case," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 470-491, June.
    4. Wright, P. Daniel & Mahar, Stephen, 2013. "Centralized nurse scheduling to simultaneously improve schedule cost and nurse satisfaction," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1042-1052.
    5. Michael J. Brusco & Larry W. Jacobs, 2000. "Optimal Models for Meal-Break and Start-Time Flexibility in Continuous Tour Scheduling," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(12), pages 1630-1641, December.
    6. Monica C. Villarreal & Pinar Keskinocak, 2016. "Staff planning for operating rooms with different surgical services lines," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 144-169, June.
    7. Millar, Harvey H. & Kiragu, Mona, 1998. "Cyclic and non-cyclic scheduling of 12 h shift nurses by network programming," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 582-592, February.
    8. Michael J. Brusco & Larry W. Jacobs, 1998. "Personnel Tour Scheduling When Starting-Time Restrictions Are Present," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(4), pages 534-547, April.
    9. Fowler, John W. & Wirojanagud, Pornsarun & Gel, Esma S., 2008. "Heuristics for workforce planning with worker differences," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 190(3), pages 724-740, November.
    10. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:55:y:2004:i:11:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2601789 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Broos Maenhout & Mario Vanhoucke, 2016. "An exact algorithm for an integrated project staffing problem with a homogeneous workforce," Journal of Scheduling, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 107-133, April.
    12. Brusco, Michael J. & Jacobs, Larry W., 2001. "Starting-time decisions in labor tour scheduling: An experimental analysis and case study," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 131(3), pages 459-475, June.
    13. Brusco, Michael J. & Jacobs, Larry W., 1995. "Cost analysis of alternative formulations for personnel scheduling in continuously operating organizations," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 249-261, October.
    14. Schirmer, Andreas, 1996. "New insights on the complexity of resource-constrained project scheduling: Two cases of multi-mode scheduling," Manuskripte aus den Instituten für Betriebswirtschaftslehre der Universität Kiel 391, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Institut für Betriebswirtschaftslehre.
    15. Lagodimos, A. G. & Leopoulos, V., 2000. "Greedy heuristic algorithms for manpower shift planning," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 95-106, October.


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