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Design of Order Picking Warehouses

Dr. Alice E. Smith
Joe Forehand Distinguished Professor of ISE
Auburn University
September 22, 2017   2:30-3:30pm
John Tickle Building 410



This seminar will discuss the formulation and solving of the order picking warehouse design problem. Design variables include the number and placement of both the cross aisles and the pick aisles, the location of the depot, and the aspect ratio of the warehouse for a given storage capacity.  For a candidate design, product is allocated to storage location using a new algorithm and then designs are evaluated with a sampling of possible orders by shortest path routing through the candidate warehouse design.  The shortest path algorithm has been adapted to reflect human preferences in moving through such a warehouse.  This problem is complex both from an algorithmic perspective and from a computational perspective.  We address these challenges through smart order sampling and an efficient heuristic using an innovative encoding and problem decomposition, and also through distributed and parallel computing.  Results indicate that many designs currently used in practice are surprisingly effective even though they are simplistic and obvious.  However, for certain warehouse environment characteristics non-traditional designs can offer operational advantages.


ALICE E. SMITH is the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Auburn University, where she served as Department Chair from 1999-2011. She also has a joint appointment with the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. Previously, she was on the faculty of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh from 1991-99, which she joined after industrial experience with Southwestern Bell Corporation. Dr. Smith has degrees from Rice University, Saint Louis University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Smith’s research focus is analysis, modeling and optimization of complex systems with emphasis on computation inspired by natural systems. She holds one U.S. patent and several international patents and has authored more than 200 publications which have garnered over 3,000 citations and an H Index of 24 (ISI Web of Science) and over 9,600 citations and an H Index of 45 (Google Scholar). Several of her papers are among the most highly cited in their respective journals including the most cited paper of Reliability Engineering & System Safety and the 2nd most cited paper of IEEE Transactions on Reliability. She won the E. L. Grant Best Paper Awards in 1999 and in 2006, and the William A. J. Golomski Best Paper Award in 2002. Dr. Smith is an Area Editor of both INFORMS Journal on Computing and Computers & Operations Research and an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation and IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering.