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
Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy