Intelligent Control of Freight Services on the Basis of Autonomous Multi-agent Transport Coordination
In a highly competitive market, freight forwarders face a fierce pressure to reduce costs by optimizing their dispatch and planning processes. An increasing share of smaller shipments, dynamic markets, traffic problems and a growing variety of special equipment and vehicle types for general cargo render the manual planning of transport logistics a prohibitively complex optimization challenge. The autonomous coordination of transport services and planning processes can help to cope with the dynamics and distributed nature of logistics networks. In this paper, we introduce a multi-agent based approach that enables an autonomous dispatch process in a realistic transport scenario. The presented approach has been used and validated as an appropriate way to solve resource allocation problems when new transport orders can appear at any time. Simulation experiments with real data from the logistics partner STUTE show that the procedure outperforms the previous distributed manual dispatching process significantly in terms of flexibility and speed, leads to a reduction of empty mileage and increases capacity utilisation of trucks. Additionally, the system is designed to serve as a decision-support system (DSS) which provides proposals for allocations of transport orders to trucks to support the decision process of a human dispatch manager.
KeywordsVehicle routing Multi-agent systems Decentralised systems Logistics dynamics
The work presented in this paper was co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi, 19G7028B).
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