Development of algorithmical concept for scheduling and allocation problem

I have to solve a problem in the field of operations research. I want to gather some general approaches to evaluate them to pick the most promising to design a problem-related program.

Problem definition

Company ACME that sells customized collages and has a production that adheres to mass customization principles.

Production

• A desk D where the collages are created (maybe there will be more desks in future, but not for now)

• A collage C is composed of...

• Diverse square pictures P

We can consider the collage as created, when the last needed square picture is created.

• Marker M of color T and capacity c_m

A picture is drawn with one or more marker(s) of same color. Each picture consumes a certain amount of marker capacity. It is possible that a pictures can consume more than one marker. Empty markers can be refilled but that takes a fixed amount of time.

The drawer is an android that works 24/7 (since androids have no human rights yet) and can hold mutliple markers (there is a limit, we can assume 2 for now), if one marker is empty, he can switch to the next and doesn't loose time because of refilling. Changing the marker because another color is needed, also takes time.

The markers are not at the android's desk, only the one he currently uses. They get there at the time they're scheduled.

The problem now is to schedule the specific square picture assignments, the according marker assignments, marker refills and color switches so that every single step of the collage production is planned considering a high output rate (that includes the minimaziton of color switches).

Question

I need help finding algorithms and ideas for solving the problem. Maybe there are some best practices or problem instances to map I haven't thought of. E. g. TSP, where I'm not sure how to apply it in this special case.

My Solutions/Ideas so far

• Simulated Annealing The square Pictures assignments, marker assignments, etc. are consindered as events. Find a permutation of events that minimizes global cost function.
• Auction class algorithms Every square picture assignment gets a balance of money according to the return value of a per-assignment cost function. The assignments can buy the needed resources in an auction house. Upon a valid buy, the resource and the assignment are scheduled.
• Map to graph instance (Don't know exactly how to do that yet) and find path with minimum weight.