Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Rail, road or waterway?

Is road transport the best way to send oranges from Spain to northern Germany? Or would it be better to ship them by rail or waterway for part of the route? A new software package determines the cheapest, fastest or most environmentally compatible mode of transportation.

Prime Argentine steak accompanied by a good French wine, with strawberries from Spain as dessert. And mood music playing on a stereo system made in Japan. Most national and international freight is transported by road, because it is the least expensive option.

But this is likely to change soon, due to road tolls and the rising cost of fuel. Even when it’s a question of making sure that the merchandise is delivered precisely on time, trucks are not always the most reliable solution. It can often take a long time to clear goods through the container terminals, and tailbacks on the motorways can cause additional delays.

So what is the optimum strategy for transporting goods over a particular route? Where could costs be saved by using inland waterways, and at what point would it be best to transship to a road or rail vehicle? What is the cheapest, fastest, or most environmentally compatible overall solution? Answers can be provided by a new software package developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund. “The user enters the locations between which the goods are to be transported, as you would when using a route planner,” says IML team leader Joachim Kochsiek. “The system calculates different variants to find the optimum solution that fits the specified criterion: costs, time or, in a future version, least environmental burden. It even factors in the time and costs for transshipment.”

Digital maps of road, rail and inland waterway networks can be purchased off the shelf, but the information they provide is not sufficiently detailed for the new software. “There are different categories of train, and different pricing systems for different rail connections – we can’t apply a standard price per kilometer. We need to know what rules apply to the speed, width and height of trains, how many wagons are permitted on a particular section of railroad, and the maximum speed limit. Whereas this kind of information is included in road maps, it has to be compiled manually for the rail networks,” Kochsiek explains.

For each mode of transportation, the system adapts its calculation of costs and fuel consumption to the degree of capacity utilization. For example, the lower the number of wagons pulled by a locomotive, the higher the costs. A prototype version of the software for optimizing time and costs is already available. The researchers are now working on the algorithms for calculating the environmental burden. A later version with online access will enable modified shipping timetables, for instance, to be instantly included in the calculations.

Joachim Kochsiek | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Further information:

Further reports about: IML Railway Truck container terminals international freight railroad transshipment waterway

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Bremen University students reach the final at robotics competition with parcel delivery robot
19.10.2016 | BIBA - Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik

nachricht Discovering electric mobility in a playful way
18.08.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>