Cable Tree Wiring -- Benchmarking Solvers on a Real-World Scheduling Problem with a Variety of Precedence Constraints

Jana Koehler, Joseph Bürgler, Urs Fontana, Etienne Fux, Florian Herzog, Marc Pouly, Sophia Saller, Anastasia Salyaeva, Peter Scheiblechner, Kai Waelti

Cable trees are used in industrial products to transmit energy and information between different product parts. To this date, they are mostly assembled by humans and only few automated manufacturing solutions exist using complex robotic machines. For these machines, the wiring plan has to be translated into a wiring sequence of cable plugging operations to be followed by the machine. In this paper, we study and formalize the problem of deriving the optimal wiring sequence for a given layout of a cable tree. We summarize our investigations to model this cable tree wiring Problem (CTW) as a traveling salesman problem with atomic, soft atomic, and disjunctive precedence constraints as well as tour-dependent edge costs such that it can be solved by state-of-the-art constraint programming (CP), Optimization Modulo Theories (OMT), and mixed-integer programming (MIP) solvers. It is further shown, how the CTW problem can be viewed as a soft version of the coupled tasks scheduling problem. We discuss various modeling variants for the problem, prove its NP-hardness, and empirically compare CP, OMT, and MIP solvers on a benchmark set of 278 instances. The complete benchmark set with all models and instance data is available on github and is accepted for inclusion in the MiniZinc challenge 2020.

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