Fleet Optimization to Support Barge Operations – UL02-02 ACBL

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Fleet Optimization to Support Barge Operations – UL02-02 ACBL

Use o Linear Programming to minimize the cost of a process meeting the constraints of this process.


American Commercial Barge Lines

Research Team:

Gail W. DePuy, Amy Bush, G. Don Taylor

Universities Involved:

University of Louisville

Start Date:


End Date:



Minimization of the overall travel cost of aggregating and disaggregating activities of barges by ACBL operations in the Gulf Region using a mathematical model considering various problem dependent constraints.
The model can be applied to a variety of situation to obtain information pertaining to various scenarios such as adding or removing fleet space as well as the increase or decrease in the number of available boats.
This research will address two main issues. First, a simulation-based heuristic to schedule the transport of barge cargo will be developed, validated, and implemented. This scheduling heuristic will determine the operation of transporter (boats) such that the pickup time of loads, assignment of transporters to loads, and the travel path of transporters will be decided. This extremely complex problem will be modeled and solved using an automated simulation tool capable of solving these scheduling problems on a daily or even hourly basis. The second problem addressed in this research is the fleet location problem, which is a dynamic layout problem. In logistics systems, the dynamic layout problem is even more challenging than in industrial factory because the problem instance size is generally much larger than in factory settings, logistics problems are often more time sensitive and dynamic than factory oriented problems, and the ‘facility’ itself can be much more dynamic than the four walls of a facility. In this project, the researchers attack the difficult task of determining effective solution approaches for the dynamic facility layout problem in logistics environments.
The application of this model to actual river operations gives ACBL a tool to make decisions regarding the scheduling of barge movements and boat usage throughout the system. The model can aid ACBL in planning tow reconfiguration locations to minimize the cost associated with barge movement.
The mathematical model provides a valid framework from which to further analyze ACBL operations in the Gulf region. The model is valid and can be applied to larger and more complex problems. This model provides a basis for further expansions that can be made to the model.
This model can be used to study various scenarios regarding ACBL operations. Most importantly this model allows the user to study the effects of ‘what- if’ scenarios on the system. These scenarios can include what- if location space is increased or decreased. These can include fleet, cleaning, or repair locations. An increase or decrease in boat capacity can also be studied. This model can be a strong decision making tool for ABLC in considering future expansion or reduction of capacity.
At this point no data about actual ACBL operations has been applied to the model. The model was developed based on input from ACBCL as to how the system operates, but the model has only been tested with a sample data set. A significant amount of data from ACBL is required to make any useful conclusions for the model.