Multi-Depot Distribution Planning with Nabuurs

Our paper describing our long-term research with Nabuurs has been accepted for the journal Interfaces. This paper describes the work we have been doing with a number of Master students from our Operations Management and Logistics program at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Distribution networks of many logistics service providers have evolved from single-depot to complex and highly dynamic multidepot networks. In a single-depot network, the deliveries from each depot are planned individually, and drivers return to the starting depot to pick up each new order. In a multidepot network, the deliveries from multiple depots can be planned simultaneously; thus a logistics service provider can effi- ciently combine its resources and depots, thus reducing its labor and transport costs. However, an increasing emphasis on reliability, customization, and flexibility affects the logistics structures.

The accepted paper describes the shift from single-depot planning to multidepot planning for Nabuurs B.V., a large Benelux logistics service provider, which implemented a centralized, automated multidepot planning process throughout its organization. We developed a simulation model to evaluate system performance and to address performance challenges. In the paper, we discuss the results of extensive simulation tests and the specific recommendations that Nabuurs B.V. management implemented.

Some key conclusions are that significant value is obtained by changing the planning procedure from reactive to proactive and using automatic planning support to deal with more calculations and to obtain significant improvements coming from more complex solutions, which were not reached via pure manual planning.

Interested in the paper? Contact me for obtaining a copy.

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