Revisiting the pallet loading problem using a discrete event system approach to minimise logistic costs

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This paper presents a new challenging modelling approach to support different heuristics to tackle the pallet loading problem (PLP). A discrete event system model to tackle the PLP is specified using the coloured Petri net formalism in order to integrate the model with the industrial context in which the PLP must be solved. New events can be formalised in the model to implement different heuristics to consider the upstream (production) and downstream (transport) influence of the palletising activity in the logistic flow. A state space analysis is performed to evaluate the different solutions to fit the maximum number of boxes on a rectangular pallet, supporting the inherent box diversity (heterogeneous palletising problems) of present production and distribution logistic systems. The heuristics implemented show that acceptable occupancy results can be obtained without requiring the exhaustive evaluation of the different feasible combination. The results demonstrate that it outperforms other approaches which have been suggested for this type of problem. Potentially useful extensions of the work are discussed. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2243-2264
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2011


  • coloured Petri nets
  • heuristics
  • logistics
  • pallet loading problem
  • reachability tree


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