Development of

Methods for the Multiple

Trailer Loading Problem

 

Introduction

 

This project was undertaken by Jane Beechey and Nigel Granger, as part of the Management Science Honours project that gives students an opportunity to experience the process involved in solving a “real-life” problem for an organisation.

 

Our project was to work with Orbit Systems, a Wellington-based Operations Research consulting firm which has software in the market place that attempts to find good loading configurations of trailers for large volumes of products requiring transportation between warehouses for US companies.

 

We were asked to provide a fresh perspective to the complex problem of finding methods for loading trailers in a way that minimises the number of trailers required for an order. There is no optimal solution to this type of problem, given the many realistic complexities added to what is essentially a binpacking problem.

 

We have provided our client with a coded program that demonstrates some new ideas to the approach of loading trailers, and the results we achieved with comparison to what the client’s present software can perform. In addition, recommendations that further extend our ideas in areas of interest to our client were presented.

 

Further Information

 

Statement of the problem

Program Process

 

About the Authors

 

Jane Beechey majored in Management Science during her undergraduate degree, and also studied a variety of interest papers that have helped, along with previous work experience, to provide a practical perspective for the project.

 

Nigel Granger completed a Bachelor of Science in Management Science from the University of Canterbury in 1997. Nigel has spent three years teaching mathematics and computing in New Zealand high schools and is a registered teacher.  Nigel has interest in the area of Heuristic design.

 

Acknowledgements

 

We would like to acknowledge the assistance provided during this project by the following people.

 

Dr John Giffin and Dr Ross James, our supervisors, who have provided invaluable feedback and guidance during the year.

 

Craig MacLeod, our contact at Orbit Systems, has been very helpful with answering our many questions about trailer loading.

 

Tim Ferris for his knowledge and expertise with programming languages.