Front cover image for Development of a decision support tool for optimizing the short-term logistics of forest-based biomass


Development of a decision support tool for optimizing the short-term logistics of forest-based biomass

Highlights: Transshipment and routing models are developed for short-term biomass logistics. The models include biomass storage, pre-processing, and truck routing decisions. Models are applied to a large forest-based biomass logistics company. Average reduction of 12% in cost and fuel consumption is observed using the models. An Excel-based decision support tool is developed for the company. Abstract: High cost of logistics is one of the barriers of using forest-based biomass for energy and fuel production. Biomass logistics is complex and includes interdependent decisions related to storage, pre-processing and transportation. While these decisions have been considered in numerous medium-term planning models, those for short-term planning are limited. The existing models focused only on optimal truck routing without considering intermediate storage facilities which are essential to match biomass supply and demand. In this study, a decomposition-based approach is used and optimization models are developed for the short-term planning of a large biomass logistics company located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, Canada. The company deals with collection, storage, pre-processing and transportation of biomass. Several operational constraints related to truck-location compatibilities and truck-biomass compatibilities arising from heterogeneity of trucks and biomass types which further complicate the logistics planning are incorporated in the models. First, a transshipment model is developed and solved using a mixed integer formulation to determine comminution schedules and the number of truckloads of each biomass type to be transported each day using each type of truck. Then, a routing model, which uses the results of the transshipment model, is developed to determine the optimal routing for the available trucks. A decision support tool to optimize the company's weekly transportation and comminution operations is also developed for the company. Experiments were conducted on real data from the company over a span of four weeks. The results indicate 12% reduction in the total average cost and a similar reduction in fuel consumption compared to the actual routes implemented by the company. It is suggested that savings could be obtained by using larger trucks for longer distance transportation and smaller trucks for shorter distances. Direct delivery of biomass from suppliers to customers, bypassing the yard, could result in cost savings
Downloadable Article, English, 2018
Elsevier, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2018