13. October 2015

Mobility for the Future: RISC Software Designs Sustainable Transportation Chains

In transportation logistics, the number of journeys must be reduced to a minimum while, at the same time, maximum use is made of capacities — while keeping costs and emissions as low as possible. Fraunhofer Austria, RISC Software GmbH and Hödlmayr International AG have set out to meet these challenges in the IPPO research Project.

The efficient organization and optimization of transportation processes is a permanent challenge for the logistics sector. While adhering to delivery deadlines and transport capacities, the number of journeys must be reduced to a minimum and, at the same time, maximum use made of capacities – while keeping costs and emissions as low as possible. At the same time, long-term planning is hampered by fluctuations in demand. The mostly short-term planning that results from this significantly influences the forms of transport chosen. For example, even though in many cases rail is the most sensible option from an ecological point of view, transport by road is often chosen because of its shorter lead time. However, if the capacity of the lorry is not used to the full, the unnecessary emissions produced by the unladen vehicle harm the environment.

The Challenge of the Automotive Industry

The car industry presents particular challenges to transport services providers when it comes to the distribution of new vehicles. They are faced with a huge variety of product shapes and sizes, vastly differing quantities to carry and the need for specific trailer forms for roll-on/roll-off transportation. Although carriers receive forecasts of expected transportation volumes, the actual delivery schedules are only available shortly before transportation is due to begin. The high level of uncertainty in the branch means that these schedules often differ greatly from what has been planned. In order to react quickly and flexibly to changing transportation needs, transport services providers generally draft their delivery plans manually.

IPPO Research Project: Designing Sustainable Transportation Chains

To meet these challenges, scientists at Fraunhofer Austria are collaborating with RISC Software GmbH and Hödlmayr International AG on the IPPO research project (Intelligent Networking of Forecasts, Planning and Optimization to Create Sustainable Transportation Chains) to develop an information system that enables transport services providers to plan and carry out reliable and long-term transportation. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) as part of the "Mobilität der Zukunft" (Mobility of the Future) programme. The target figures provided by the customer are to be pooled and refined with the aid of a forecast model. All relevant parameters, such as seasonal fluctuations and economic developments, will be identified for this purpose and appropriately correlated. This will significantly increase planning security. To anticipate bottlenecks or surpluses in good time the refined target figures will be matched against the available resources. The transport services provider will be given evaluated alternative courses of action on the basis of the result of the capacity planning. This will demonstrate that the transportation journeys can be performed more efficiently. If the loads are sufficiently large, the system also shows whether transport by barge and/or rail is feasible. The methods that are developed will be displayed as interlinked in an IPPO demonstrator. This makes it possible to evaluate the results of the case study of vehicle distribution and to calculate the economic and ecological added value of forecast-supported transport planning.

Photo: © Hödlmayer