High volume conveyor sortation system analysis
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The design and operation of a high volume conveyor sortation system are important due to its high cost, large footprint and critical role in the system. In this thesis, we study the characteristics of the conveyor sortation system from performance evaluation and design perspectives employing continuous modeling approaches. We present two continuous conveyor models (Delay and Stock Model and Batch on Conveyor Model) with different representation accuracy in a unified mathematical framework. Based on the Batch on Conveyor Model, we develop a fast fluid simulation methodology. We address the feasibility of implementing fluid simulation from modeling capabilities, algorithm design and simulation performance in terms of accuracy and simulation time. From a design perspective, we focus on rates determination and accumulation design in the accumulation and merge subsystem. The optimization problem is to find a minimum cost design that satisfies some predefined performance requirements under stochastic conditions. We first transform this stochastic programming problem into a deterministic nonlinear programming problem through sample path based optimization method. A gradient based method is adopted to solve the deterministic problem. Since there is no closed form for performance metric even for a deterministic input stream, we adopt continuous modeling to develop deterministic performance evaluation models and conduct sensitivity analysis on these models. We explore the prospects of using the two continuous conveyor models we presented.