Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, Odisha, 769008, India
Flexible flow shop (or a hybrid flow shop) scheduling problem is an extension of classical flow shop scheduling problem. In a simple flow shop configuration, a job having ‘g’ operations is performed on ‘g’ operation centres (stages) with each stage having only one machine. If any stage contains more than one machine for providing alternate processing facility, then the problem becomes a flexible flow shop problem (FFSP). FFSP which contains all the complexities involved in a simple flow shop and parallel machine scheduling problems is a well-known NP-hard (Non-deterministic polynomial time) problem. Owing to high computational complexity involved in solving these problems, it is not always possible to obtain an optimal solution in a reasonable computation time. To obtain near-optimal solutions in a reasonable computation time, a large variety of meta-heuristics have been proposed in the past. However, tuning algorithm-specific parameters for solving FFSP is rather tricky and time consuming. To address this limitation, teaching–learning-based optimization (TLBO) and JAYA algorithm are chosen for the study because these are not only recent meta-heuristics but they do not require tuning of algorithm-specific parameters. Although these algorithms seem to be elegant, they lose solution diversity after few iterations and get trapped at the local optima. To alleviate such drawback, a new local search procedure is proposed in this paper to improve the solution quality. Further, mutation strategy (inspired from genetic algorithm) is incorporated in the basic algorithm to maintain solution diversity in the population. Computational experiments have been conducted on standard benchmark problems to calculate makespan and computational time. It is found that the rate of convergence of TLBO is superior to JAYA. From the results, it is found that TLBO and JAYA outperform many algorithms reported in the literature and can be treated as efficient methods for solving the FFSP.