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DISS - Dynamic and integrative disposition in LTL agencies (BMWi)


Forwarding agencies handling less-than-truckload (LTL) freight are confronted with the worldwide growth of transportation demands. With regard to future EU expansion, experts predict that the market will continue to grow for LTL-cargo forwarders.

The network operations of these companies are thereby strongly influenced by the performance of the individual nodes within the network, the terminals. Surprisingly, information of different handling processes like routing vehicles, yard operations and gate assignments are rarely used to generate additional benefits within the forwarding industry, even though such information is increasingly available in real-time.


First, relevant processes and the resources used for this purpose in a LTL shipping facility were examined and were modeled with sequence and structure diagrams.

Together with experts of the cooperating forwarding agency, representative data were collected and the objectives and constraints were arranged for the algorithm development.

For realizing the optimization methods, a prototypical web application has been implemented to solve the joint problem of vehicle route planning (VRP) and door assignment of incoming trucks.

The indoor and yard layouts were considered and restrictions like time-sensitive shipments, cargo composition, shipment data and driving times were taken into account.


Layout of a LTL forwarder

Layout of a LTL forwarder


For the fields of local tour planning and door assignment evolutionary algorithms and heuristics have been specifically developed.

The implementation resulted in a web service, which can be controlled by defined method calls. 213 tours and 4000 shipments had to been calculated by both algorithms.

Several detailed analyzes of unloading zones, internal transfers, time-sensitive shipments and various performance indicators were calculated and visualized.

For determining the algorithm solution quality the indicators of total distance traveled, total unloading end, total waiting time of tours with time-sensitive shipments and average unloading duration have been compared.

Here the heuristic distance-time-opt-with-priority performed best at all.

This development can also be used for strategic purposes, for example to create new tour plans, area allocations, area arrangements or door assignments.


Contact: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Clausen