My research interests are in the application of mathematical modelling and optimisation techniques to problems arising in freight transportation and distribution planning, and in supply chain networks, with a particular focus on improving the environmental performance of such systems. I have been investigator in a number of externally funded projects including SCALE (InnovateUK, c. £1M, 2020–2022) on last-mile logistics, Freight Traffic Control 2050 (EPSRC, c. £1.45M, 2016–2019) on urban freight, IConIC (InnovateUK, c. £1.4M, 2014–2016) on vessel efficiency, MEET: Materials Sciences for Energy Ef- ficiency in Transport (INTERREG IVA France Channel England, c. 5M Euros, 2012–2015), and DITTO (funded by the RSSB, c. £904K, 2014–2017) and OCCASION (funded by the EPSRC/RSSB, c. £400K, 2010–2012) on railway timetabling.
Freight Transport and Distribution
I am interested in the modelling and optimisation of problems arising in the design, planning and operation of transportation networks for distribution of freight. Whilst this encompasses different modes of transport (e.g., rail or maritime), or even a combination thereof (e.g., intermodal or multimodal), of particular interest to me is the class of Vehicle Routing Problems arising in road transportation, which entails dispatching a number of vehicles from a given location to visit a number of delivery points, subject to a set of constraints (such as capacity or time), so as to minimise some measure of cost. Given the undesirable impacts of transportation on the environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions, I have also looked at identifying and reducing such externalities through better planning. I am also interested in development of new models and algorithms for the solution of such problems.
Other classes of problems I have looked at within freight distribution include multicommodity network design, service network design and facility location, which have led me to write a textbook titled Freight Transport and Distribution: Concepts and Optimisation Models that explains these problems and ways in which they can be modelled and solved.
What is last-mile logistics? It is the shipment of goods from local hubs or depots to the final point of delivery; a significantly challenging task particularly in urban areas hindered by unavailability of kerbside (parking) spaces, uncertainty in customer locations and the need to ensure timely deliveries, amongst others. I am part of a team working on the project Transforming the energy demands of last-mile urban freight through collaborative logistics (FTC2050) looking at overcoming these challenges by analysing large data sets from real couriers and to design innovative business models to enable carriers to operate more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly manner.
My interest in this area stems from a couple of projects I have been involved in that looked at railway networks that both had the aim of measuring increasingly constrained railway capacity due to nodes (e.g., stations), and developing timetables that optimise capacity utilisation without compromising service reliability. One of these projects, titled Developing Integrated Tools to Optimise Railway Systems (DITTO) and funded by the Rail Safety and Strategy Board, aimed to contribute to establishing basic principles and proofs of concept and by developing optimisation formulations, algorithms and processes that will help deliver a step change in rail system performance and help to meet future customer needs.
Research Group Membership
Freight Traffic Control 2050: transforming the energy demands of last mile urban freight through collaborative logistics
ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)
September 2018 - August 2019