The goal is weatherproof transport chains

In the age of digitization, ways and means are emerging to better incorporate weather forecasts into the tour and route planning of truck system traffic. This is to prevent that heavy rain and snowfall or black ice affect the transport chain more than necessary. The Jade University of Applied Sciences Wilhelmshaven has turned this into a research project in which DB Schenker participates. It is headed by Michael Klafft, Professor of Business Informatics in the Department of Management, Information, Technology.

In the first step, the scientists want to compare historical GPS data of the vehicles with historical weather data. To put it simply, there are a number of constants in DB Schenker’s system traffic. These include the daily driven routes over which detailed records exist. And there are variables, such as the weather. The research team analyzes the correlation between the weather events and the duration of the journey. “For example, it’s about precisely quantifying the delays caused by heavy rain or snowfall on individual sections,” says Dr. Christian Tummel, Business Consultant Data at Schenker AG in Essen.

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Interfaces to planning software for scheduling

In the second step, weather forecasts are to be included in order to make reliable statements about possible weather-related delays. The aim of the research project is to provide transport companies with a service portfolio by the summer of 2022. Components include a weather forecasting system, route-based alerts, special routing applications for long-distance buses and trucks, and a component with parking availability information. Klafft wants to facilitate the “connection of individual functions to existing applications and also to ensure the scalability of the offers”. Conceivable, for example, would be interfaces between the IT systems of a transport service provider and the targeted microservices.

Dr. Christian Tummel, Business Consultant Data, Schenker AG

“If we know weather forecasts and their interrelations with transportation planning, we gain an important tool for adhering to timetables and ensuring on-time delivery.”

In general, DB Schenker’s system transports have fixed arrival and departure times at the terminals. “We expect the research project to enable us to respond flexibly to weather-related deviations in the future,” explains Tummel. That would be very useful for both transport planning and the recipients. “If we know weather forecasts and their interrelations with transportation planning, we gain an important tool for adhering to timetables and ensuring on-time delivery.”

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The benefit in the everyday business of a logistics service provider may be explained by an example: The usual travel time on a certain route is 270 minutes. The reliable weather forecast announces heavy snowfall. Based on previously determined GPS data, the system concludes that a truck will reach its destination with a delay of 30 minutes. “Ideally, it’s automated,” says Tummel. For example, the terminal manager can use the information provided to decide to start the truck sooner than planned. Maybe even if the charging process is not complete. And with good reason: if the truck misses the reception terminal by half an hour, it does not make it on time for the local traffic. Then no customer receives his shipment from the dispatch area. On the other hand, if the truck starts earlier, at least part of the goods will be delivered – preferably to the addressees who were promised a fixed deadline. “It is even better, of course, if reliable weather forecasts are available 24 hours before the scheduled departure of a truck,” says Tummel: “This brings peace to the scheduling.” – We can therefore look forward to the results of the study.

2 million euros project volume

The three-year research project is 75 percent funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Co-ordinator is the Jade Hochschule. The project volume comprises around 2 million euros. Partners are the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS, FlixMobility Experience GmbH, Climate Media Factory UG, Infoware GmbH, Map and Route GmbH and Schenker AG.

“When combining #weather data and #GPS, a #cloudburst does no longer affect the transport chain. “

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Does it make sense to always consider weather data when planning transport chains?