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Logistics for decision support - an application in cases of natural disasters

: Clausen, Uwe; Tesch, Christian


Zeimpekis, V.:
Humanitarian and Relief Logistics : Research Issues, Case Studies and Future Trends
Berlin: Springer, 2013 (Operations Research/Computer Science Interfaces Series 54)
ISBN: 978-1-4614-7006-9 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-4614-7007-6 (Online)
Book Article
Fraunhofer IML ()

Considering that every disaster is unique and doing research during natural disasters is difficult, we show the possibility to learn from solutions of logistics research. One main problem of logistics planning in cases of natural disasters is relief good distribution. While this problem belongs to the class of vehicle routing problems (VRP) under uncertainty, the task of transshipping relief goods needs to be considered more intensively. Especially, assigning trucks to doors to load or discharge has a high impact on the performance of a transshipment facility. In our approach, known and specially developed scheduling heuristics are applied to logistic operations in disaster relief. Therefore, we transfer the given problem of relief goods handling to transshipment of less-than-truckload (LTL) items. Here, our main objective is to improve efficiency of handling relief goods in terminals under consideration of urgent shipments. Based on limited resources for cargo handling in disaster areas, various weights and sizes of relief goods, time-sensitive shipments like medicaments or food, improper truck arrival times and different departure times, we apply and evaluate several strategies to schedule trucks in the unloading process. We apply and compare strategies to schedule incoming trucks, buffer areas and handling equipment like forklift trucks based on real data. Therefore, we developed fast decision algorithms to react to uncertain and changing information. Additionally, six different scheduling heuristics were developed to solve the complex problem of planning the utilization of unloading gates, one buffer area belonging to each unloading zone and a fleet of forklift trucks. The algorithms allow the implementation into a real-time system.