SUNConferences, Southern African Institute of Industrial Engineering 2013

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Optimization of Empty Rail Wagon Re-Distribution
Robert Pokote Mutyavavire, Kimberly Battle

Last modified: 2013-06-18


Rail freight network service design is characterized by asymmetrical demand by volume. The loaded wagon in-flow to a specific region is generally unequal to the out-flow from that region. Over time, an imbalance in wagon resource and capacity is realized in the network. The periodic re-distribution of empty wagons is necessary. Re-distribution is non-revenue earning and at a cost. To minimize cost and improve efficiency, the empty wagon mileage should be optimized (minimized). Traditionally, operational planning was effected through reasoning and head knowledge of operating staff. The human element renders the resulting system behavior inherently inconsistent and sub-optimal, particularly with increasing network size. A need arises for a management decision support system that consistently guarantees optimized aggregate empty mileage and associated costs. This paper formulates and applies an LP based mathematical model as a DSS to the empty wagon re-distribution problem. Network capacity and resource constraints are considered. The model is applied to a medium sized African rail freight operator with encouraging results.

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