Scheduling short-term marine transport of bulk products
Dan O. Bausch,
Gerald G. Brown and
Maritime Policy & Management, 1998, vol. 25, issue 4, 335-348
A multinational company uses a personal computer to schedule a fleet of coastal tankers and barges transporting liquid bulk products among plants, distribution centres (tank farms), and industrial customers. A simple spreadsheet interface cloaks a sophisticated optimization-based decision support system and makes this system useable via a varity of natural languages. The dispatchers, whose native language is not English, and some of whom presumably speak no English at all, communicate via the spreadsheet, and view recommended schedules displayed in Gantt charts both internationally familiar tools. Inside the spreadsheet, a highly detailed simulation can generate every feasible alternate vessel employment schedule, and an integer linear set partitioning model selects one schedule for each vessel so that all loads and deliveries are completed at minimal cost while satisfying all operational requirements. The optimized fleet employment schedule is displyed graphically with hourly time resolution over a planning horizon of 2-3 weeks. Each vessel will customarily make several voyages and many port calls to load and unload products during this time.
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