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Optimal trip and load planning

How can companies maximize truck capacity utilization and at the same time plan trips so that the burden on the environment and transport costs are reduced? A new software system couples cargo space utilization and trip planning.

A company wants to deliver paper to five customers in Bavaria. The trip planning software currently used calculates that one truck will be enough to cover the locations in central Bavaria if another truck on the Baden-Württemberg route takes over two of the deliveries.

The problem is that, although the trips have been optimized, the trucks are not fully loaded. “At present, transport companies first compile the orders and then assign them to trips and vehicles. Truck capacity utilization is only optimized afterwards. This often means that optimal route planning is neglected,” explains Dr.-Ing. Bernhard van Bonn, Deputy Head of Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund. The aim is to bring this dilemma to an end soon.

In the Efficient Load project, logistics experts from the IML are working together with the industrial partners GEFCO and M-Real as well as the Berlin software company PSI on effectively combining cargo space utilization and route planning. This could considerably reduce transport costs in future.

“Although software tools for trip planning and cargo space utilization are used, they are not combined, which means that only one aspect is actually optimized,” explains van Bonn. Efficient Load harmonizes capacity utilization and trip planning in a single step – and significantly improves truck use. The software optimizes transshipment, order combination, loading sequence and route planning. Stephan Sirrenberg from project partner M-Real expects the new system to reduce ton-kilometers by 15 to 20 per cent. Every month the paper manufacturer makes around 41,000 deliveries. 16,500 trucks transport around 345,000 tons of paper to customers in more than 100 countries. The effective combination of capacity and route optimization will reduce energy costs, as well as toll charges, considerably.

The research scientists have been developing the software since early 2008 as a twelve-stage concept taking all the important parameters into account. By the end of 2009, GEFCO and M-REAL should have an up-and-running version which can be integrated without difficulty in their trip planning software. At the transport logistik trade show from May 12 to 15 in Munich, the researchers are presenting Efficient Load on the Fraunhofer joint stand in Hall B2, Stand 501/602.

Dr.-Ing. Bernhard Bonn | Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
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