PITA Fiscal Year 2008 Projects - Product and Process Design and Optimization

Computational Models And Algorithms For Enterprise-Wide Optimization Of Process Industries

The process industry is a key industrial sector in the U.S. and in the state of Pennsylvania. The chemical industry is the largest exporter in the U.S. and conducts more than $23 billion of R&D. The industry employs more than one million people in highly skilled and high-paying jobs. Enterprise-wide optimization (EWO) has become a major goal in this industry due to the increasing pressure to remain competitive in the global marketplace. EWO involves optimizing the operations of supply, manufacturing and distribution activities of a company to reduce costs and inventories. One of the key features in EWO is integration of information and decision-making among the various functions that comprise the supply chain of the company. To fully realize the potential of IT transactional tools, the development of sophisticated deterministic and stochastic linear/nonlinear optimization models and algorithms (analytical IT tools) is needed to explore and analyze alternatives of the supply chain to yield overall optimum economic performance, as well as high level of customer satisfaction. An additional challenge is the integrated and coordinated decision-making across the various functions in a company (purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, sales), across various geographically distributed organizations (vendors, facilities and markets), and across various levels of decision-making (strategic, tactical and operational).

It is the goal of this proposal to continue previous research for developing a comprehensive set of computational capabilities for EWO problems. The work is performed by a multidisciplinary team from three Pennsylvania institutions (Lehigh, Carnegie Mellon, U. Pittsburgh), composed of industrial and chemical engineers and operations researchers, 6 faculty, and 2 Lehigh Ph.D. students, working in coordination with ATLSS at Lehigh and ICES at Carnegie Mellon. The group is developing novel models, algorithms, decomposition methods, and computational techniques, and involves close collaborations with ABB, Air Products and Chemicals, BP, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, NOVA Chemicals and TOTAL. The work involves scheduling of cranes in steel manufacturing (ABB), rescheduling of bulk gas production and distribution (Air Products), optimization models for planning of refinery operations (BP), simultaneous strategic and tactical planning in distributed batch plants (Dow), global optimization of multiperiod refinery models (ExxonMobil), modeling and evaluation platform for a specialty polymer product (NOVA), and crude oil scheduling (TOTAL). We have meetings twice per year, and have organized a popular seminar series that is broadcast to the companies. We are editing a special issue on Enterprise-wide Optimization in the journal Computers & Chemical Engineering that will increase the visibility of our project. Our research results are available on the webpage http://egon.cheme.cmu.edu/ewocp/. We describe plans of our work that include efforts to expand industrial internships and recruit additional companies that are based in Pennsylvania.