Introduction to the Special Theme

by Rob van der Mei, CWI, and Ariona Shashaj, SICS

In December 2013, one of the biggest online retailers announced its intention to use drones to deliver products to consumers. Perhaps the next step towards future logistics will be the use of teleportation beams! Although we are under no immediate threat of being pelted by delivery drone rain while dodging teleporting beams of products, logistics systems have undoubtedly become more complex in order to face new challenges imposed by the growth of the global market, mass urbanization, and the move towards sustainability. This Special Theme of the ERCIM News is dedicated to recent advancements in logistics, planning, scheduling and supply chain optimization.

by Pedro Amorim, Sara Martins, Eduardo Curcio and Bernardo Almada-Lobo, INESC TEC

Large food retailers have to deal with a complex distribution network with multiple distribution centres, different temperature requirements, and a vast range of store formats. This project used an optimization-simulation approach to help food retailer Sonae MC make the best decisions regarding product-warehouse-outlet assignment, product delivery modes planning and fleet sizing.

by Andreas Halm, Fraunhofer Austria

Many parameters and variants have to be taken into account when planning new production buildings. How do you find the optimal positioning for the production equipment and the most efficient transport paths? Is there a way to find bottlenecks before they hinder your production? The new GrAPPA software makes planning the production a lot easier.

by Miguel A. Barcelona, Aragón Institute of Technology

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have become a key element in improving collaboration and decision-making in the field of transport and logistics. The Spanish ICT4Logistics Demonstration Centre is a test-bed infrastructure where providers or potential customers may run pilots and demonstrations.

by Péter Egri, Dávid Gyulai, Botond Kádár and László Monostori, SZTAKI

In today’s competitive manufacturing industry, efficient production planning is of crucial importance to match the supply with the customer order stream. The RobustPlaNet approach aims to support the decision makers at different hierarchical levels of production enterprises to react or even to proactively plan and manage their activities in a more robust way than it used to be in the traditional practice.

by Giorgio O. Spagnolo, Eda Marchetti, Alessandro Coco and Stefania Gnesi, ISTI-CNR

In recent years, business process management has become increasingly popular in many industrial contexts and application domains. This is mainly because it facilitates the modelling of process specifications and the development of an executable framework, while providing concise definitions and taxonomies. The data acquired during the business process execution phase can be used for quality analysis and to demonstrate compliance to specifications. We describe an experience in the real world context of the Livorno Port Authority.

by Leendert Kok and Joaquim Gromicho, ORTEC

“German CIT truck robbed with Bazooka” 12-12-2015, “Attack on CIT in Amsterdam” 4-06-2015, “Failed robbery on the Italian highways” 15-05-2015. These are three examples of the motivation of one part of a joint research project of ORTEC, Geldservice Nederland (GSN), and the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam called ‘Optimizing cash supply chain networks’.

by Sara Gestrelius and Martin Aronsson, SICS Swedish ICT

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer she is drawn into a network of examinations, tests and treatments with interdependencies in several steps. Because the prognosis for recovery is tied to how quickly she gets help, it is important to reduce the time from the first doctor’s appointment to the start of treatment.

by Sara Gestrelius, SICS Swedish ICT

The cost of building a new shunting yard is in the order of €100 million and the expected lifespan is over 50 years. Discussions about new railway infrastructure investments are currently ongoing in Sweden, and SICS Swedish ICT are using mathematical optimization to solve NP-hard shunting yard problems to help the Swedish Infrastructure Manager choose between different yard layouts.

by Pieter van den Berg, TU Delft, Guido Legemaate, Amsterdam Fire Department, and Rob van der Mei, CWI

In life-threatening situations where every second counts, the timely arrival of firefighter services can make the difference between survival and death. Motivated by this, the Stochastics Department at CWI in collaboration with the TU Delft and the Fire Department Amsterdam-Amstelland in the Netherlands have developed a mathematical programming model for determining the optimal locations of the vehicle base stations, and for optimally distributing the different firefighter vehicle types over the base stations. Extensive analysis of a large data set for the Amsterdam area demonstrates that, and how, response time can be improved by relocating only few base locations and redistributing different vehicle types over the base locations.

by Merel Steenbrink, Elenna Dugundji and Rob van der Mei, CWI

At the Stochastics research group at CWI we use socio-economic features of neighbourhoods to predict the demand for charging stations for electric vehicles. Based on a large set of behavioural data, a discrete choice model is estimated, and the utility of charging stations in every neighbourhood is calculated. In this way the demand can be predicted and the municipality of Amsterdam can proceed proactively.

by Björn Löfvendahl, SICS Swedish ICT

For a global industrial company like ABB, sending maintenance specialists around the world costs a lot of money and is neither time efficient nor environmentally friendly. Augmented reality allows the specialist to stay in the office and guide a local employee remotely.

by Denise Holfeld and Axel Simroth, Fraunhofer IVI

SYNCHRO-NET is an EU Horizon 2020 funded research project that is developing a powerful and innovative synchro-modal supply chain platform. Based on three demonstrators SYNCHRO-NET will show that a cloud-based solution can support the deployment and application of the synchro-modality concept, guaranteeing cost-effective robust solutions that de-stress the supply chain to reduce emissions and costs for logistics operations while simultaneously increasing reliability and service levels for logistics users.

by Niels Agatz, Leo Kroon, Remy Spliet and Albert Wagelmans, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The continuous growth of online sales together with the current inefficiency of delivery services puts a lot of pressure on urban areas in terms of congestion, emissions and pollution. Researchers at Erasmus University Rotterdam are developing decision support tools to facilitate efficient delivery services for products purchased online.

by Joachim Arts, TU Eindhoven

Capital goods, such as trains and railway infrastructure that facilitate our public transport, are an important part of our daily lives. Maintenance operations are necessary to ensure safety and prevent disruptive failures. To make these operations run smoothly, it is crucial to have the right amount of spare parts available. Eindhoven University of Technology and NedTrain collaborate to optimize the spare parts supply chain using stochastic modelling and optimization.

by Abderrahmane Aggoun, KLS OPTIM, Nicolas Beldiceanu, Gilles Chabert, École des Mines de Nantes and François Fages, Inria

Constraint programming methods can be used to solve hard geometric placement and packing problems such as those encountered in the operational logistics and in the conception of packing plans.

by Victoria Svedberg, SICS Swedish ICT

New rules call for new methods. The deregularisation of the railway market in Sweden has not only opened the market for new railway operators, but also posed challenges to the old methods. SICS Swedish ICT is developing a process to make timetabling transparent, easy and fair, while still satisfying societal needs.

by Renaud De Landtsheer, Christophe Ponsard and Yoann Guyot, CETIC

The efficient operation of logistics and supply chain systems requires businesses to solve large and complex optimisation problems such as production planning, fleet management and order picking. The OscaR Open Source framework supports the optimisation of such problems through a variety of powerful solvers offering various expressivity, optimality, and scalability trade-offs.

by Ahmad Al Hanbali, Sajjad Rahimi-Ghahroodi, and Henk Zijm

The MLOG (Optimal Exploitation of Resources in Maintenance Logistics) project, executed jointly by the University of Twente and the University of Qatar, focuses on an integrated planning of resources needed for asset maintenance.

by Sara Gestrelius

No two days are exactly the same on the Swedish railways. Despite this, most trains are granted only one train path that they are supposed to use every day of operation. Restricting each train to a single train path wastes infrastructure capacity and prevents train operators from getting the capacity they require. In a project funded by the Swedish Transport Administration, SICS Swedish ICT used optimization to plan for each operation day individually. The results show a major improvement in customer requirement fulfilment.

by Ulrich Schimpel and Stefan Wörner, IBM Research

Interwoven production lines may be complex, with variable yield and production times, various sub-components competing for processing capacities, and fixed batch sizes. Furthermore, inventory costs need to be minimized and fluctuating customer demands need to be satisfied 98 % of the time. Such complex production lines need to be optimized using a combination of techniques. We describe an approach using a simplified mathematical model that allows for sensitivity analyses, followed by a discrete event simulation to adequately represent the complex business environment.

Next issue: July 2021
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