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Transportation Efficiency: Changing the Way Payloads are Shipped

Transportation is an expensive and emission-heavy process for companies. Transportation management systems, software that facilitates interactions between an organization’s order processing methods and its warehouse or distribution center, reduce costs through better route planning and load optimization, provide greater flexibility for changes in delivery plans, and allow a company to see what’s happening in its shipping operations.

Daily, these systems calculate and communicate shipment and delivery schedules to suppliers of assembly, manufacturing and international operations, optimizing every part of the distribution process.

Seokgi Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, explains that “a schedule is generated for every part and for every ‘ship-from location’ that calculates the specific number of parts that must be sent to ensure that the plant or factory receives the material on time.”

Logen Solutions, a leading company in logistics optimization and design software, is funding Lee to continue the development of a three-dimensional packing algorithm to perform trailer cubing – using cubical shapes to efficiently optimize the amount of space to ship or store products – and design a system in which the cubed output would be integrated into main ship and delivery schedules.

“The products are properly organized to reduce the costs of freight per piece: lower freight expenses equate to higher profits,” says Lee. “The algorithm incorporates the size of the boxes, the specific layout of products on a pallet relative to the carton sizes, the size of the pallets, and even the product size,” Lee continues.

The research project, originally funded by Fiat Chrysler Automobile USA – a North American automaker – will consider both expected operational and green performance in generating the strategic decision-making framework that integrates the trailer cubing with the transportation planning. The framework also will include the execution of on-demand transportation services.

“Effective transportation management keeps a company’s whole supply chain running smoothly,” Lee says. “By improving packing efficiency, we reduce overall lead time while saving money on storage. These are tremendous incentives for companies to implement more efficient transportation management systems.”

The research project is officially titled, “Development of Integrated Decision-Making Framework and Software for Crowdsourced Parcel Delivery Service with Load Packing Optimization.”

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