A cross-entropy method for optimising robotic automated storage and retrieval systems

Mehdi Foumani, Asghar Moeini*, Michael Haythorpe, Kate Smith-Miles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we consider a robotic automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) where a Cartesian robot picks and palletises items onto a mixed pallet for any order. This robotic AS/RS not only retrieves orders in an optimal sequence, but also creates an optimal store ready pallet of any order. Adapting the Travelling Salesman Problem to warehousing, the decision to be made includes finding the optimal sequence of orders, and optimal sequence of items inside each order, that jointly minimise total travel times. In the first phase, as a control problem, we develop an avoidance strategy for the robot (or automatic stacker crane) movement sequence. This approach detects the collision occurrence causing unsafe handling of hazardous items and prevents the occurrence of it by a collision-free robot movement sequence. Due to the complexity of the problem, the second phase is attacked by a Cross-Entropy (CE) method. To evaluate the performance of the CE method, a computational analysis is performed over various test problems. The results obtained from the CE method are compared to those of the optimal solutions obtained using CPLEX. The results indicate high performance of the solution procedure to solve the sequencing problem of robotic AS/RSs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6450-6472
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • automated storage and retrieval systems
  • cross-entropy method
  • scheduling
  • travelling salesman problem
  • warehousing


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