MOL to use mathematical optimisation modelling for car carrier scheduling

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) reports that it has begun operation of a new support system for car carrier allocation planning using mathematical optimisation based on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

MOL operates a car carrier fleet of approximately 100 vessels and up to now had conducted simulations of transport routes for each vessel several months ahead of time, to achieve optimal fleetwide resource allocation from the theoretically millions of possible combinations involving all of its ships.

In cooperation with Professor Shunji Umetani of Osaka University, MOL has now developed an algorithm that is able to create an optimal allocation plan from the glut of available combinations using mathematical optimisation, which will form the basis of a new performance management system for the company.

An underlying technology of artificial intelligence (AI), mathematical optimisation is used to derive results that minimise (or maximise) objective functions under given constraints and conditions. It is already applied in a broad range of industries such as investment management, logistics and supply chain management, energy management, and scheduling.

Introduction of the new technology at MOL should increase the speed of decision making at the car carrier and allow greater flexibility in meeting changes in transport demand. In addition, improvement of fleet-wide efficiency will reduce fuel consumption per unit transported, reducing the vessels’ environmental impact, the company says.

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