Application of Mathematical Programming to the Plywood Design and Manufacturing Problem
Plywood manufacture includes two fundamental stages. The first is to peel or separate logs into veneer sheets of different thicknesses. The second is to assemble veneer sheets into finished plywood products. At the first stage a decision must be made as to the number of different veneer thicknesses to be peeled and what these thicknesses should be. At the second stage, choices must be made as to how these veneers will be assembled into final products to meet certain constraints while minimizing wood loss. These decisions present a fundamental management dilemma. Costs of peeling, drying, storage, handling, etc. can be reduced by decreasing the number of veneer thicknesses peeled. However, a reduced set of thickness options may make it infeasible to produce the variety of products demanded by the market or increase wood loss by requiring less efficient selection of thicknesses for assembly. In this paper the joint problem of veneer choice and plywood construction is formulated as a nonlinear integer programming problem. A relatively simple optimal solution procedure is developed that exploits special problem structure. This procedure is examined on data from a British Columbia plywood mill. Restricted to the existing set of veneer thicknesses and plywood designs used by that mill, the procedure generated a solution that reduced wood loss by 79 percent, thereby increasing net revenue by 6.86 percent. Additional experiments were performed that examined the consequences of changing the number of veneer thicknesses used. Extensions are discussed that permit the consideration of more than one wood species.
Volume (Year): 30 (1984)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
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