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Optimisation tool for logistics operations in silage production

Busato, P., Sopegno, A., Pampuro, N., Sartori, L., Berruto, R.
Biosystems engineering 2019
biomass, corn, crops, decision support systems, field experimentation, forage, grasses, harvesting, linear programming, model validation, operating costs, perennials, silage, simulation models, wheat
Silage is one of the typical systems to preserve biomass usually oriented from corn, sorghum, wheat, grass, and other forage and perennial crops. A critical task within the logistics operations in silage production, i.e. harvesting, transporting, and compacting, is the management of the biomass flow, in connection with the biomass storage system and the required conditions of the stored product depending on its further purpose of use. A key issue in large-scale silage production operations is the matching of the material processing capacity of forage harvester with the material removal capacity of transport units and the material processing capacity of the compactor, in order to maintain a steady material flow. This allows for the optimisation of the working chain.The objective of the paper is the development of a decision support system that for a given silage production system determines the configuration of the optimal number of transport units in each field of an area to be harvested that minimises the total operational cost of the production system under time constraints for the completion of the operation. The tool consists of the combination of two models, a simulation model and a linear programming based optimisation model. The simulation model was validated based on field trials. The simulation model generates a series of results regarding total operating time and total operation cost for different configuration of the allocated transport units based on machinery and field features, which results are used to build the cost matrix of the optimisation model. The capabilities of both the simulation model, as an individual tool, and the complete decision support tool were demonstrated. The tool provides performance evaluation measures that consider the interaction of the various parts of the working chain and can be easily tuned for other silage operations with different crops.