Optimal project duration for resource leveling
Atan, Sabri Tankut
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Resource leveling is important in project management as resource fluctuations are costly and undesired. Typically, schedules with better resource profiles are obtained by shifting the activities within their float times using the schedule of fixed duration found by Critical Path Method. However, if the project duration can be extended, it is plausible to find a schedule with enhanced resource leveling since a longer duration allows for more float time for all activities. In this work, we relax the assumption of fixed durations in resource leveling formulations and investigate what the minimal project duration for the best leveled schedule should be. We provide mixed-integer linear models for several leveling objectives including the Release and Rehire metric. We show that not all metrics used for leveling under fixed durations may be appropriate when the project duration becomes a decision variable. Optimal solutions from smaller problems are used to find the magnitude of the extension needed and benefits obtained thereby. Since the problem is a NP-hard problem for which exact solutions cannot be obtained for large networks in reasonable time, we provide a greedy heuristic to be used with the Release and Rehire metric. Using an iterative framework, we also test the performance of a state-of-the-art heuristic algorithm from the literature on our problem. Computational experiments indicate that the more the number of resources is increased, the less leveling benefits are gained from extending the project. The optimal project durations and extension benefits can also be significantly different for different metrics.
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