e-Freight Logistics Scheduling

e-Freight: Multi-Modal Logistics Optimization

e-Freight optimizes the use of different transport modes for sustainable utilisation of freight transport resources. e-Freight multi-modal logistics planning tools enable strategic and real-time planning of freight transport networks.

e-Freight is a collaborative initiative involving major shipping and logistics operators in Europe such as Stena Line, Port of Valencia, Schenker, Jan de Rijk, DSV and China Shipping.

MJC², working in collaboration with coordinators BMT and thirty other supply chain and logistics innovation organisations, has applied real-time optimization algorithms to multimodal logistics operations, leading to massive efficiency improvements and the development of new information standards.

Intermodal Optimization

Scheduling of inter-modal freight transport presents a very challenging optimization problem which cannot be addressed by conventional planning software.

Each transport mode has its own benefits and constraints which need to be included in the optimization process:

  • Ship & barge are low cost and low carbon footprint but slower and subject to unpredictable factors such as weather or congestion in ports and terminals.
  • Rail movements are faster and more regular but do not offer great flexibility, and may still be subject to delays, especially on congested networks which are shared with passenger services.
  • Trucks present the greatest flexibility but usually at a higher cost and larger impact on the environment, and the well-documented shortage of drivers in Europe means that it is no longer possible to look on road haulage as the "default" option.

The e-Freight real-time optimization approach brings together the different modes, enabling an integrated transport solution to be scheduled dynamically.

This concept has been proven for example in several different rail freight corridors and freight operations, demonstrating substantial cost and environmental benefits.

As new transport orders are received the system dynamically updates transport schedules, balancing work across modes and suppliers.

The e-Freight approach enables freight-forwarders, haulage companies and transport operators to optimize their operation while offering better service to their customers and reducing environmental impact.

The freight planning system uses a detailed operational model than takes into account constraints such as time windows, freight compatibility, access constraints, commercial agreements and resource availability.

e-Freight Standards

The success of the e-Freight project led to the development of new standards for exchange of information between logistics operators and users.

The Oasis UBL standard has been extended to include several new schemas which are exploited by MJC²'s software, such as:

  • Transport Service Description Request: the logistics service user sends a request for information about possible transport services (e.g. rail schedules) to the transport service providers (e.g. rail freight operators).
  • Transport Service Description: the transport service provider can publish details about their available services and schedules in a standardised format that can be used by automated multimodal logistics scheduling systems.
  • Transport Execution Plan Request: the transport user sends a request to the logistics service provider for a particular movement/shipment to be executed.
  • Transport Execution Plan: the logistics service provider can respond in a standardised format, providing details about the planned multimodal (i.e. multi-legged) transport movement.



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