New Help To Optimise Xmas Delivery Strategies

Edinburgh Napier University’s digital experts showcase optimisation techniques for businesses that even Santa will benefit from

Software engineering experts from Edinburgh Napier University have developed an interactive demonstrator to show how optimisation techniques can address the challenges faced by companies trying to optimise their delivery strategies. It helps ensure all orders are fulfilled within specified time-frames in the most economical and sustainable way.

In the run up to Christmas there are inevitably more vans on the roads delivering packages around the country, especially as online shopping becomes more popular. There are a variety of businesses that need to adopt logistical strategies to get their products into customers’ hands.

Dr Neil Urquhart, Software Engineering Programme Leader at Edinburgh Napier University explains: “Managing delivery logistics effectively and efficiently is a challenge faced by companies and manufacturers of all sizes on a daily basis. The goal is to distribute to as many customers as possible, using the most cost effective and environmentally sustainable route within the desired delivery schedules.

“The approach we’re using addresses this potentially complicated business objective by adapting existing scientific techniques into an easy-to-use format using Google Maps. The optimisation algorithms quickly come up with solutions – including the minimum number of delivery vans required, the cost of journeys and producing route maps to fulfil the desired number of orders.”

The site is available here –  www.soc.napier.ac.uk/routingdemo/

Senior Industry Consultant in Strategic Supply Chain Management, Kenny Wiggins said: “The major part of any decision making process is the analysis of the set of available alternatives. The development of software tools to aid in this decision process will greatly increase the effectiveness of the decisions that are made by allowing the user to make an ‘informed assessment’ of the options.

In this specific example, it can help firms in the distribution sector considerably not just in effective route planning, but also with improvements in vehicle and resource utilisation, which in turn will lead to a reduction in overall business operating costs.”

The techniques have also been incorporated into a Route Santa page (www.routesanta.org). Anyone can add their house to the page to ensure that Santa and his elves deliver all the presents in time on the night of the 24th December!  The algorithm constructs Santa’s delivery run over time as more people add themselves to the route.

This project is one example of the work being done by Edinburgh Napier as part of its involvement in the Business Innovation Exchange (BIE) which aims to provide SMEs with easier access to academic know how, facilities and intellectual property. BIE is funded by the ERDF and the Scottish Funding Council.

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