This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) research proposes to provide funding to develop operating strategies for goods movement. In particular, the research explores the impact of introducing operational choice into vehicle routing and scheduling. The research considers a diverse set of applications in routing for goods movement in both industry and non-profit agencies, including intermodal drayage operations and interlibrary loan delivery, with the common theme of developing and evaluating innovative strategies. These applications involve similar core optimization problems involving vehicle routing and scheduling with operational choice and illustrate the inherent tradeoffs from introducing increased choice. Allowing more flexibility in transportation systems can lead to increased logistics efficiency; yet, introducing flexibility in modeling and solution phases is challenging, as the scope and complexity of the optimization problems expand. This project will design and analyze algorithms to solve the resulting optimization problems. Longer-term plans include the study of broader issues related to the value of choice in terms of efficiency gains, as well as the complexities of introducing choice into difficult problems. The educational components of this CAREER program include hands-on student learning, interactive coursework, and programs that foster diversity in engineering. This proposal includes initiatives to promote student involvement in transportation research for women and minorities.
If successful, this research will improve the efficiency of distribution systems for goods movement in a variety of applications. In addition, the results of this career program can be extended well beyond transportation. The main output of this research will be a set of methodological tools that can be used by others for different applications.