A New Episode in Optimisation: The Agile Force Awakens



Dr Eva Savelsberg, Senior VP, INFORM GmbH


For many years the automation and productivity debate revolved around efficient waterside processes, smarter yard stacking and perhaps quicker truck/ gate turnaround times. But recently the focus has shifted to rail yard operations and the possible gains associated with it. High performing hinterland systems are mission critical in order to manage peak demands and customer expectations.

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More and more tasks have to be coordinated simultaneously at highspeed with permanent and unplannable changes. Not only is the large volume of data overwhelming, but we also have the massive amount of possible actions to contend with. This is where ‘Agile Optimization’ comes in. It can be used to speed-up and optimise the decisionmaking processes in rail crane operations.
Powered by algorithms, the software is able to calculate routing options, handshake possibilities in the transshipment area and double cycle opportunities within a fraction of a second. The best results are immediately translated into optimised job order sequences for each crane – adapted to their grade of automation (manual, semi or full).

Agile Optimization is a concept that takes human/computer interaction, rapid response to change and decision making quality to a new level. It benefits from the enormous advances in computer hardware over the past two decades. But gains in processor speed pale in comparison to the progress made by algorithms: hardware power has increased by the factor 1,200, while algorithms have improved by a factor of 55,000 in the same period. The joint forces result into a staggering factor of 66 million, or in other words: a planning model using linear programming that would have taken two years to solve…

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