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Model for Collaboration among Carriers to Reduce Empty Container Truck Trips...

by Md Majbah Uddin, Nathan Huynh
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In recent years, intermodal transport has become an increasingly attractive alternative to freight shippers. However, the current intermodal freight transport is not as efficient as it could be. Oftentimes an empty container needs to be transported from the empty container depot to the shipper, and conversely, an empty container needs to be transported from the receiver to the empty container depot. These empty container movements decrease the freight carrier’s profit, as well as increase traffic congestion, decrease roadway safety, and add unnecessary emissions to the environment. To this end, our study evaluates a potential collaboration strategy to be used by carriers for domestic intermodal freight transport based on an optimization approach to reduce the number of empty container trips. A binary integer-linear programming model is developed to determine each freight carrier’s optimal schedule while minimizing its operating cost. The model ensures that the cost for each carrier with collaboration is less than or equal to its cost without collaboration. It also ensures that average savings from the collaboration are shared equally among all participating carriers. Additionally, two stochastic models are provided to account for uncertainty in truck travel times. The proposed collaboration strategy is tested using empirical data and is demonstrated to be effective in meeting all of the shipment constraints.