For many years I have maintained open source code to optimize the arrangement of small items in larger bins in two and three dimensions.
My interest in this problem has been maintained by requests from several clients to provide front and back ends that adapt the bin packing engine for their particular needs.
- Cutting panels from plywood sheets with minimum waste. 2D problem. Client in the Philippines .
- Packing ECCO shoe boxes into cartons to minimize shipping costs. 3D problem. Client in the USA.
- Packing Canon camera boxes into cartons to minimize shipping costs. 3D problem. Client in Italy.
- Cutting panels from plywood sheets with minimum waste. 2D problem. Client in India.
The Indian client was kind enough to share test results comparing my results with those from a commercially available system ( Cut Rite ). The test involved 32 unique packing problems requiring in total 926 panels to be cut from 124 sheets. On 26 of the 32 packs the results were identical, requiring the same number of sheets to cut the panels. For 4 packs the Cut Rite arrangement needed fewer sheets, and for 2 my packing engine gave a better result.
As always with optimization problems, my focus is on providing answers that are good enough in an extremely short time. The Cut Rite bin packer required several seconds to generate a solution, my engine delivered in 300 milliseconds or about 10 times faster.