This work addresses a particular case of the group shop scheduling problem (GSSP) which will be denoted as the fixed group shop scheduling problem (FGSSP). In a FGSSP, job operations are divided into stages and each stage has a set of machines associated to it which are not shared with the other stages. All jobs go through all the stages in a specific order, where the operations of the job at each stage need to be finished before the job advances to the following stage, but operations within a stage can be performed in any order. This setting is common in companies such as leaf spring manufacturers and other automotive companies. To solve the problem, we propose a novel heuristic procedure that combines a decomposition approach with a constraint programming (CP) solver and a restart mechanism both to avoid local optima and to diversify the search. The performance of our approach was tested on instances derived from other scheduling problems that the FGSSP subsumes, considering both the cases with and without anticipatory sequence-dependent setup times. The results of the proposed algorithm are compared with off-the-shelf CP and mixed integer linear programming (MILP) methods as well as with the lower bounds derived from the study of the problem. The experiments show that the proposed heuristic algorithm outperforms the other methods, specially on large-size instances with improvements of over 10% on average.
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