Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Ontario Center of Excellence (OCE) are supporting GaiaDigits and a research team in McMaster University to develop the next generation workforce scheduling system for service industry, like restaurants, retail stores.

Stores working in service industry are open more than eight hours each day, and high demand fluctuation in different periods throughout a day makes workforce scheduling challenging. Hence, a mathematical model is proposed, which optimizes the schedules of staffs based on the policies and regulations of the union and the store to minimize the shortage and excess of employees based on the requirements.

This model can be solved using commercial solvers. The output of this model is the working schedule of each staff on each day, which also shows the task assigned to them in each period. However, the solving time for large stores which have many staff and different tasks could be long (several hours).

The purpose of this project is to propose an algorithm which solves the problem efficiently in a short time. GaiaDigits and the research team from McMaster University will design a metaheuristic algorithm to get a near optimal solution for the staff scheduling. A proper metaheuristic will not only solve the scheduling problem faster, but also make our algorithm independent of commercial solvers.