Solving dynamic and stochastic routing and scheduling problems in maritime transportation

Project facts

Project promoter
Complutense University of Madrid
Project Number:
Target groups
Researchers or scientists
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 9,872
The project is carried out in:


Maritime transportation is central in worldwide logistics. The quantity of goods being transported by sea is expected to continue increasing in the future. An efficient utilization of transportation resources is crucial to provide accessible transportation services and contribute to a sustainable society. The main expected result is to obtain a simulator that can serve as a useful planning tool for maritime transportation. All the research will be implemented within a simulator framework, which could be considered as an automated planning tool for maritime transportation problems, and which could be used to perform extended analyzes of routing and scheduling strategies for maritime shipping companies. The main beneficiaries of the project will be the scientific community in general and the maritime sector in particular. The donor partner Norwegian University of Science and Technology has a long history of working with maritime transportation from an operations research perspective and the project promoter University Complutense of Madrid has experience in the resolution of routing and scheduling problems.

Summary of project results

The project is focused on the area of maritime transportation. The development of the logistics concerning maritime transportation is crucial because it is a major mode of transportation which takes more than 80% of the world trade volume. On top of this, the European Commission has stated as a goal that half of all EU road freight travelling more than 300 kilometres should be shifted to rail or water by 2050. However, the research already performed in this area has focused mainly on simplified problems, in which several important attributes are usually discarded so that the problems considered become more tractable. As a result, more research is needed to be able to approach these complex problems, in order to obtain more efficient transportation systems with smaller environmental effects. First, partners have developed and implemented several local search methods for the stochastics and dynamic industrial shipping problem approached in the project, and embedded then into the existing maritime transportation simulator designed in a previous phase. The computational results obtained show that significant additional savings can be achieved by appending these methods to the existing basic initial solution methods, and also that they help creating final solutions with a more similar structure. Second, partners have studied different waiting strategies to be used when designing the sailing plans for the vessels of the fleet, in order to further explore the scheduling aspect of the problem. They have implemented several simple strategies and tested them in the simulator, and have designed a mathematical model to exploit the available stochastic information when determining the departure times of the vessels. Preliminary results are promising and show that the use of these alternative strategies can be useful to design better plans. At the moment of the end of the grant partners are finishing an extensive computational study to analyze with detail the performance of the proposed waiting strategies. Lastly, partners have started preparing the code so that it can be adapted in the future work with tram shipping, They have discussed several future work lines related to implementing new methods to deal with tram shipping and make decisions regarding the acceptance of optimal cargo requests, and expect to continue working on this issue.

Summary of bilateral results

The Norwegian partner research team is an expert in maritime transportation problems. Their main contributions to the project are related with the detailed description of the functioning of industrial shipping in real life, which is essential for the development of a realistic simulator, and the proposal of appropriate solution methods for these problems. The expertise of the Spanish partner is focused on the mathematical methods to be applied. The partnership between both groups was very important because it allowed the combination of the expertise of Norwegian team with the Spanish expertise in solving vehicle routing problems. Partners believe that the conjunction of the previous experience of both parts and the subsequent collaboration was crucial to the achievement of the final results. Partners will keep developing and maintaining the maritime transportation simulator they have created in order to extend it to other maritime transportation modes and improve the solution methods They hope the simulator can be used to solve realistic problems. They have planned to continue cooperating by approaching the extension of the problem to tram shipping. They wish to model the interaction between a tram shipping company and the spot market where contracts for transporting goods are negotiated, embedding the new solution methods and the models for market interaction into the maritime transportation simulator. Partners have presented the work within the VeRoLog Conference hold in Oslo in June 2014 and submitted papers to international peer-reviewed journals.