Seeking optimality in fruit pulping schedules: A case study*

  • J.H. Van Vuuren
  • G.E. Huddlestone


The process of scheduling fruit pulping for the production of fruit juices is of great importance in the beverage industry. Decisions have to be made regarding available processing time, the disposal of fruit that will not be pulped before stock loss due to spoilage, the fulfilment of customer demand and an optimal financial position. Sheduling depends on the capacity of the work force, pulping machine limitations and delivery deadlines. However, the situation is often encountered where the plant manager has to decide which fruit batches (usually from stock piles of overwhelming proportions during the harvesting season) are to be pulped in order to minimize losses due to fruit deterioration. Such decisions are usually done manually, based on intuition and experience. A mathematical model is presented here which constructs a pulping strategy while minimising cascading financial losses associated with fruit grade drops within the stock pile. It is shown in particular that a minimisation of fruit losses is not a good criterion for optimality, and that substantial financial gains may be accomplished when minimising financial losses in stead of fruit losses, which is currently standard practice at most fruit pulping plants.


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