# General methods for synchromodal planning of freight containers and transports

General methods for synchromodal planning of freight containers and transports

AuthorHuizing, Dylan (TU Delft Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science)

Gijswijt, Dion (mentor)

Sangers, A (mentor)

Phillipson, Frank (mentor)

van den Berg, J.L. (mentor)

Aardal, Karen (graduation committee)

Delft University of Technology

Programme Date2017-08-23

AbstractSynchromodal freight transport is introduced as intermodal transport, so container transport that uses several transportation vehicles, with an increased focus on a-modal booking, cooperation and real-time flexibility.It is confirmed that general synchromodal network planning methods are rare or non-existent at the operational level. An extensive framework is developed that describes characteristics of different mathematical synchromodal optimisation problems on the tactical-operational levels.Three different problems are defined using this framework. Solution methods for these three problems are developed in this thesis, with a focus on low computation times so as to facilitate decision-support and real-time flexibility, and a focus on generality so as to make the methods applicable throughout different organisation structures.In the first problem, it is assumed that the transportation vehicles have fixed time tables and one only has to decide on a container-to-mode assignment, so by what modality-paths all containers reach their destination against minimal total cost. The containers have release times and deadlines. A model that also allows soft due dates is developed. Moreover, the option of using trucks or other ‘infinite resources’ to help fulfil requests is added. With appropriate graph reductions, this problem can be solved to optimality in little time by solvingthe minimum cost multi-commodity flow problem on an appropriate space-time network.In the second problem, the goal is the same but almost any element can be stochastic: for instance, travel times and container release times could be given a discrete probability distribution rather than a fixed value. Rigorous definitions are formulated to capture the generalities in this stochasticity. Multistage stochastic optimisation and Markov Decision Processes are illustrated, but advised against for their computing time: instead, Expected Future Iterationand 70%-Pessimistic Future Iteration are developed and shown to yield near-optimal results in a small amount of time in the simulated environment.In the final problem, there are no stochastic elements, but the decision-maker is given control over the vehicle time tables in addition to the control over container-to-mode assignments. This problem is argued to be a departure from classical optimisation problems, but shown to still be strongly NP-hard. An integer linear program is developed to solve the problem, butthe results show that it scales too poorly to solve problems of ‘real life size’ in an appropriate amount of time for decision support. The Greedy Gain heuristic and Compatibility Clustering heuristic are developed: they solve much more limited sub-problems with the ILP, but unfortunately, even these sub-problems require too much computational effort at the wished instance size.A number of topics for future research are formulated, giving concrete advice on how to solve the second problem more robustly and how to solve the third problem more quickly.

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