GREEN BAY, Wis. – (August 29, 2018) – It’s not only the results of the optimized shipping solutions at Schneider (NYSE: SNDR) that are impressive; the research and mathematics behind them are impressive, too. Schneider was recently named a finalist for the Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice for its optimization of bulk tanker transport.
The Wagner Prize, which is awarded each year by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, rewards the use of operations research, analytics and mathematics in practice, and emphasizes clear, well-written papers and innovative mathematics. Schneider previously won the Wagner Prize in 2009 for its material on approximate dynamic programming that captured fleet operations.
The Schneider engineering group’s project addressed the complexity of offering a comprehensive bulk chemical transportation service, which involves coordinating thousands of tractors and tankers, product-sequencing constraints, tanker wash and preparation processes, and driver work-rule restrictions. Schneider’s team designed and implemented a multi-phase, multi-dimensional matching algorithm. It then teamed up with IBM to create a software system that helps transportation professionals find efficient routes in near real time – enabling cost savings and supporting growth.
“Success in transportation and logistics isn’t just about having the most trucks or the best drivers. It’s also about making the smartest decisions,” said Shaleen Devgun, executive vice president and chief information officer at Schneider. “In many cases, you can find the best solution mathematically: It’s the one that maximizes certain factors, such as the use of trucks, trailers and drivers, while minimizing others, such as the number of empty miles driven, the amount of fuel used and the total delivery time.”
Bulk tanker shipping carries specific challenges, such as prior load, meaning that if a tanker was used to ship a certain product, it may not be able to ship another type of product until it has gone through up to three wash cycles. Additionally, Schneider uses over 100 different variations of a tanker, some with different tank linings that are suitable only to a certain type of cargo and some with valves that are designed to load liquids in certain ways.
Bulk tanker logistics is such a complex matter that many trucking companies can’t offer a comprehensive service. Rather, they have to specialize in transporting only a small set of similar products. By using the algorithm created by the engineering team and embedding IBM’s software into its operational systems, Schneider has developed a solution that provides new insight into optimized driver and route planning every 10 minutes.
For transportation planners, the optimized solution simplifies decision-making, allowing planners to focus on dealing with exceptional circumstances instead of basic routing decisions. As a result, productivity in the planning department has increased by 28 percent, error rates have fallen and fewer planners are needed on a team. While the software has made planning bulk shipments easier, the experts at Schneider are still part of creating solutions for their customers’ shipping needs.
“There will always be factors that are outside the knowledge of the model, so human input is still important,” said Ted Gifford, distinguished engineer and data scientist at Schneider and a member of the team that received this prestigious honor. “But generally, the model knows best: It shows our planners the cost impact of making changes, and 80 to 90 percent of its recommendations are accepted straight away.”
Learn more about the Bulk transportation services that Schneider offers by visiting the Bulk services page, or find out how Schneider was able to create a customized logistical solution for one of its bulk shipping customers.
Schneider is a premier provider of transportation and logistics services. Offering one of the broadest portfolios in the industry, Schneider’s solutions include Regional and Long-Haul Truckload, Expedited, Dedicated, Bulk, Intermodal, Final Mile, LTL, Brokerage, Warehousing, Supply Chain Management and Port Logistics.
A $4.4 billion company (2017 revenue), Schneider has been delivering superior customer experiences and safely getting it done for over 80 years. For more information about Schneider, visit www.schneider.com or follow on Twitter: @WeAreSchneider.