Transportation Logistics

Most freight carriers have optimized their business processes almost best possible. However, there is still potential to improve efficiency of processes that span across company boundaries. To leverage this potential innovative assistance systems are required that do not only ensure a smooth transfer of information between the actors of the companies involved but that also automatically identify and communicate better transportation options.

We have developed two assistance system prototypes that were evaluated in case studies with partners of the transportation sector.

  • The first system aims at co-operating trucking companies that want to improve vehicle utilization (self-fulfillment) and to reduce the number of subcontracted orders through regular exchanges.
  • The second system demonstrates how logistic service providers being involved in the shipment of air cargo can coordinate complex global transport chains involving several transshipment steps and enables the decision makers to select one out of a set of alternative transportation options.


Integrated Exchange Platform for Cooperating Freight Carriers

Many freight carriers, both in the full truckload and in the less than truckload business, are unable to acquire enough orders to fully load their vehicles. Especially trucks of small and medium sized carriers often return to their depots empty because no suitable freight could be found. Nowadays, there are numerous exchange platforms on the internet that allow carriers to offer own contracts and search for new orders.

But these existing markets have some serious disadvantages that limit their field of application and their acceptance: carriers do not trust in the quality of service of potential bidders and generally find the exchange mechanism too limiting. Contracts are usually simply posted on an electronic bulletin board and it is very time-consuming for the carrier to evaluate how new orders can be integrated into existing tours.

Therefore, in a pilot study we develop a fully-featured exchange platform, which directly connects to the scheduling process of the participating group of freight carriers. The employed auctioning mechanism allows for multilateral exchanges of contracts and hence achieves savings in costs and a reduction of empty mileage for all participants.


Decentralized Planning System for Air Freight Logistics Service Providers

Forwarding air cargo is a highly dynamic and time-critical process where many logistics service providers from different countries are involved and even marginal delays can risk to deliver on time (e.g. because of missing a plane). The planning of the forwarding process is rarely integrated between the collaborating companies, mostly due to IT barriers the decision makers only communicate their individual process plans via telephone, fax or email. The overall success of the forwarding suffers from the deficiency of the collaborative process planning. 

Therefore, we develop concepts and methods for decentralized decision support in collaborative planning. The planning approach relies on :

  • decentralized data management,
  • each logistics service providers to plan his process steps individually,
  • calculation with potential delays during forwarding, 
  • and an interactively comparison of several forwarding plan alternatives, which are optimized with respect to costs and the probability to deliver on time.

We demonstrate with that approach how lightweight decision support systems for air freight forwarders can improve the forwarding process. The developed methods can also be applied to forwarding processes in logistics networks with other means of transportation..