- Network Design
The Great Lakes region is a convenient transportation route for the suppliers and the customers in North America. Various types of goods are being transported in the region including dry bulk commodities such as iron ore, coal, grain, and salt. The sponsor company for this project is a provider of dry bulk shipping services throughout the Great Lakes. This project has two main deliverables. The first one is to assign vessels for each trade lane for the shipping season of nine months. The second one is to find the optimal sequence of trips for each month in the shipping season. A two-phased optimization model was developed to satisfy these deliverables. In Phase 1, the optimal allocation of vessels was found with the objective function of minimizing the transportation cost. In Phase 2, the optimal sequence of trips was found with the objective function of minimizing the ballast time. Results of the optimization model provided 20% reduction in the ballast ratio per ton for the shipping season of nine months. The optimization model will be a used as a planning tool by the sponsor company. The model can also be applied on similar pickup and delivery problems in the transportation industry.