What Is Computational Logistics?

Written by Integrated Skills

Nov 3, 2014

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computational logisticsRoute Optimisation Algorithms: A planning engine may use a search algorithm used within a dynamic vehicle routing context. In computing, a search algorithm is designed to find and display objects that contain specific terms from a corpus of choices that do or do not include those terms. Typically in distribution and logistics the search algorithm displays all options that include the words and from here the most applicable route is taken. The display will often include entrance points to the route (called nodes) as well as journey times under a given set of conditions between the nodes, which are termed edges in the industry. In the terminology of the business, a distribution company seeks to maximise the ratio between cargo, edges and nodes, such that turnover, and therefore profit is maximised. It is obvious to state that the bigger the fleet employed then the higher the requirement for elements such as multi-drop route planning is going to be. In essence as complexity increases the greater is the need for consideration of computational logistics.

Computational logistics

The computer systems used in distribution and logistics are some of the most sophisticated and powerful in existence. Computational logistics is the branch of computer science and logistics which is concerned with implementing systems that can perform many complex tasks using advanced mathematics and highly sophisticated algorithms. The discipline can be viewed as the bedrock of route planning software in the global distribution business. In this sphere, the industry is concerned with optimising the flow of goods and services and all relevant information between an origin and destination point.

It entails the organisation and prioritisation of tasks by using applications such as courier route planning software and associated algorithms within the overall supply and distribution infrastructure. In such contexts, route optimisation is a keyword as there is almost certainly never going to a perfect set of delivery circumstances. These constraints to perfection in the real world are exemplified by such things as diversions, accidents or adverse weather conditions and are often updated in real time. In a computational logistics system such as a multi-drop route planner, the constraints are expressed as a series of mathematical equations and functions which take the form of an inequality.

Inequalities and vehicle route planning

In advanced mathematics, an inequality occurs when two values in a relationship are not equal. This may sound obvious, but it must be made clear that the term inequality does not mean that one value is greater or that they can be compared, it merely means that value X does not equal value Y. In the most simplistic terms when an inequality occurs a further constraint is placed on route optimisation, and that means the delivery schedule may be affected, at the very least the schedule must be flexible enough to accommodate the change. The presence of an inequality means that new information must be input to the computer network and a new set of options displayed.
Overall the use of sophisticated technology means that the distribution industry is becoming ever more efficient in the utilisation of its vehicle fleets meaning that customers and clients can enjoy improved serviced levels.

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