This paper discusses the development of optimization tools to support the design and installation of automated material handling systems. The paper is motivated by current research by the authors involving the design and development of an automated tray management system (TMS) by the United States Postal Service. Upon final contract award, the TMS project is expected to become the largest material handling contract in history.
In summary, the paper introduces current design issues related to TMS, introduces new IP and network optimization tools, and describes a user interface to isolate users from detailed model building using cumbersome optimization methods. The case study environment provides a means of validating methods and ensures that the methods presented in the paper are both timely in terms of industry interest and pragmatic in use.