Trucks, planes, trains, ships, manufacturing equipment

Optimization is classically used to make the highest profit choices in multiple decisions types for vehicles and machinery, including: assignment, production/acquisition, scheduling, network routing, pricing, and policy creation.

In optimization applications, these decisions are usually governed by multiple overlapping sets of rules and costs.  These rules represent both challenges and opportunities. 

The challenges are to find the best solutions that follow all of the rules.  The opportunities are to try different combinations in different circumstances that follow the rules and maximize the formal objective function: typically, greatest asset utilization and maximum profit.

At Princeton Consultants, we group these rules/costs into: physical, regulatory, contractual, marketplace, policy, and practical.

  • Physical:  For the regional agribusiness, we helped management achieve significantly higher utilization of rail engines and cars by modeling the physical track’s costs, constraints, and decision points. For the biotech manufacturer, where some of the machines are very expensive, simulation enables evaluation of the impact of changes in process, resources, and sequence on throughput, timeline reliability, turnaround time, product quality and cost; and a production scheduling optimization solution maximizes throughput, minimizes cycle time, and balances resource utilization.
  • Regulatory:  Vehicles and machinery often are subject to regulations that can be complex, for instance the airline, in selecting a plane and airport, must respect minimum runway lengths for different types of planes in different weather conditions and weights.
  • Contractual:  For magazines, the printing company must closely coordinate its binding to be at the exact day and sometimes time of day with the printing presses and the outbound transportation.
  • Marketplace: For the pharmaceutical company, demand for individual allergy tests varied by season, therefore allowing us to help its management optimize by configuring the machines in advance to the most efficient setup for forecasted demand.
  • Policy: For the business publication, it is company policy not to run advertisements on the same pages as news stories that concern that company, a competitor, or its industry.
  • Practical: In the service network company, changing configurations too often would drive down the efficiency of the operations staff, so Princeton Consultants added a cost into the optimization that would be unafraid to make network routing changes, while at the same time reflecting true and nuanced costs.