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ANR funded project

Mobilité et systèmes urbains durables (DS06) 2017
Projet OPUSS

Optimization of Urban Synchromodal Systems

City logistics projects have shown that urban freight networks should rely on the interoperability of several layers and modes of transportation for the delivery to shops and consumers from urban consolidation centers. In long-haul transportation, this is known as synchromodality. The concept refers to a global optimization of the network by synchronizing all transportation modes including flexible dedicated vehicles and scheduled lines. Through synchromodal transportation, the carriers and/or customers select independently at any time the best mode based on the operational circumstances and customer requirements. Synchromodality was introduced to improve the cost, resilience, and energy efficiency of multimodal networks. As a case in point, the last mile delivery is becoming a challenge in large urban areas due to the fast increase of e-commerce. Sustainable and smarter urban management is needed to reduce pollution and congestion and to meet the needs of the population. In line with this observation, new freight transportation modes (electric vehicles, cargo bikes, sharing with public transport) and delivery options (doorstep, lockers, parcel-shops) are being experimented, but rethinking transportation systems as a whole remains a challenge.
The goal of the OPUSS project is to design advanced optimization algorithms to support the planning of synchromodal urban delivery networks. It extends the concept of synchromodality by integrating the most recent urban transportation modes and delivery options proposed as last mile delivery solutions in city logistics. According to this objective, we propose to achieve fundamental advances on two major challenges of synchromodal urban systems: the choice among alternative options to deliver to customers and the temporal synchronization of modes at multiple echelons. The former allows carriers to choose among possible delivery options to produce cost-efficient routes and schedules for their fleet while holding a certain service level. The latter also comprises the handling of forward and reverse flows, mobile bases, and short-term inventories at intermediate urban logistics spaces. Vehicle routes and schedules must be adjusted to cope with all these real-world constraints.
We propose to combine the best principles and components of exact and heuristic optimization algorithms into so-called matheuristic approaches. The consortium thus aims to share a deep expertise in transport synchronization by gathering experts on exact optimization on the one side, and meta-heuristics on the other side. Together, we plan to address algorithmic challenges such as expedient solution representation, efficient feasibility checking, effective heuristics guided by mathematical programming, and heuristic solving of subproblems in exact approaches. The project will be managed in tight cooperation between both groups in Nantes and Mainz with the support of two PhD students.
The expected output of OPUSS is threefold: First, to gain insights into the structure of optimization problems arising in urban synchromodal systems in order to establish the fundamental mathematical properties that support efficient algorithms. Second, OPUSS will deliver the key models and algorithmic components that allow to address the main characteristics of these systems. Third, OPUSS's ultimate goal is to integrate all algorithmic components into a unified algorithm that is easily adaptable to most urban distribution systems. These results are expected to have a high impact for the city logistics and vehicle routing scientific communities as well as for software providers regarding the design of intelligent transportation systems (ITSs) by facilitating the integration of greener transportation modes. In practical terms, the return for carriers is improved efficiency in delivering goods in cities, whereas urban communities will observe reduced freight movements in city centers.


IMT Atlantique Institut Mines-Telecom Atlantique Bretagne Pays de la Loire

JGU Chair of Logistics Management, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

ANR grant: 358 056 euros
Beginning and duration: avril 2018 - 36 mois


ANR Programme: Mobilité et systèmes urbains durables (DS06) 2017

Project ID: ANR-17-CE22-0015

Project coordinator:
Monsieur Fabien Lehuédé (Institut Mines-Telecom Atlantique Bretagne Pays de la Loire)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.