Research Project LeWaDis

A software prototype for automated planning of empty freight wagons.

In Europe, empty rail wagon disposition is conducted, almost without exception, manually.
Manual scheduling is supported, in most cases, purely by information systems that have been developed in recent years and represent the vehicles and orders for pre-assignment in list form. The increasing complexity of the planning task and the high demands of customers in terms of flexibility and timely provision of required wagons are pushing the manual implementation of empty wagon disposition, however, more and more to its limits. Just the following aspects alone show the urgent need for a decision support planning system:

  • At Rail Cargo Austria, about 15 dispatchers schedule around 4,400 vehicles daily at peak time.
  • About 1,500 different wagon types have to be taken into account. If the desired type of wagon cannot be provided, several possible replacement classes are usually specified in the orders.
  • In the last few years, very complex rules have been defined at the European level. These allow, on the one hand, the disposition of own wagons in foreign production areas. On the other hand, the use of foreign wagons for their own customer orders is possible.

In an R&D project funded by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology within the framework of the IV2Splus program, RISC Software, in a consortium with Logistikum Steyr, Rail Cargo Austria and OnTec, developed a practicable software prototype for the (partial) automation of empty wagon disposition. In concrete terms, an optimization algorithm for the empty wagon disposition, which is based on a rolling planning approach, has been developed.

The main outcome measures from the perspective of customers and companies (such as the avoidance of delayed / premature delivery of a vehicle, minimizing empty vehicle kilometers, trip time, maneuvering procedures) can be considered in a selectively weighted way in the optimization. In the set of disposition-relevant wagons, not only are the wagons viewed by manual disposition taken into account. Moreover, the dates and the locations of the wagons prospectively available (i.e., in the next few days) are pre-calculated on the basis of the real transport chain planning and the real road map, and are included in the optimization.

Since significant order quantities (sometimes up to 50 per cent) are often announced by the customers at very short notice, but in any case too late for a timely delivery of empty wagons, an algorithm to calculate a demand forecast was developed and integrated into the prototype for the (semi-) automated empty wagon disposition. This allows for convenient positioning of the likely required empty wagons on the basis of the predicted, expected demands in the individual regions.
The implementation of an automated empty wagon disposition with the developed optimization method, using nine weeks of real ordering and wagon movement data, showed that a partial automation of empty wagon disposition is possible, and that excellent results (used as suggestions for the dispatchers) can thus be achieved.


Research Project IPPO

Intelligent networking of forecasting, planning and optimization for the design of sustainable transport chains.

The aim of the BMVIT-funded research project within the „Mobility of the Future“ funding program is to increase the planning security of vehicle logisticians in order to achieve greater use of sustainable means of transport and a reduction in energy consumption. This should be made possible by the intelligent connection of forecasting, planning and optimization, and demonstrated in the case study of an automobile distribution. Under the leadership of Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH, RISC Software GmbH, together with the company partner Hödlmayr International AG, is developing an information system which logistics specialists can plan and implement reliable and sustainable transports with. Therefore, it is necessary to extend or to clarify the planning horizon in order to react quickly to a changing and fluctuating order situation. In the area of freight transport, there are currently major deviations between the contract customers‘ orders and the actual retrieval of transport capacities.

This trend of greater volatility of transport volumes is growing further due to stronger economic fluctuations. Logistics providers are increasingly confronted with a lower degree of planning certainty which cannot be sufficiently represented by existing systems. The resulting short-term reaction of the disposition to unforeseeable fluctuations in demand causes ecological and economic inefficiencies, which can be measured by CO2 emissions, costs or the number of empty runs.

In the IPPO research project, various methods for predictive transport planning are investigated, since mathematical forecasting algorithms in supply chain planning are more likely to predict capacity quantities and thus identify capacity bottlenecks or excesses. A forecast model is to thereby be developed with the customer’s existing target figures, which specifies the resource requirements and issues options for the optimal and ecologically sustainable capacity utilization of the means of transport.

Based on the results of the capacity plan, evaluated action alternatives are derived. On the one hand, transports become more efficient by reducing the number of load and empty kilometers and, on the other hand, the possibilities for the use of inland waterways and/or railways are pointed out if the transport volumes are sufficiently large. The developed methods are illustrated in an interconnected manner.
This allows the evaluation of the results from the Automobile Distribution case study and the determination of the economic and ecological surplus value of
prognosis-based transport planning.

Picture: (c) Hödlmayr



Frauscher Configuration Tool

The company Frauscher Sensor Technology GmbH is a leading developer and manufacturer of wheel detection and axle counting systems for railways. The sensors are fastened to the rails and count the axles of the passing trains.

Borbet Austria GmbH - Production Scheduling

Success through Individual Production Planning 

Rumplmayr - Production Manager

The aim of this project was to develop a tool for all those Rumplmayr employees responsible in the planning area with which the highly volatile requirements from supply of raw wood, the demand in the form of orders and the ever-changing purchase price of logs are summarized and an „operation optimal“ weekly work schedule is calculated.

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