An EU-China Multi-Modal Modelling and Simulation tool for Logistics Applications
Introduction and Background
Driven by economic considerations, the transport network between Europe and Asia (in particular China) has recently received sustainable investment. Such development is currently accelerating. One case is so-called “The Silk Road Economic Belt” which covers a number of railways and trunk roads across the continents, for example, Hamburg–Zhengzhou, Duisburg–Chongqing and Chengdu–Lodz. These lines are over 10,000 km long but take about 13 to 17 days to complete. Another development is on “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” which covers two maritime routes (i.e. Coastal China - South China Sea - Indian Ocean - Europe; and Coastal China - South China Sea - South Pacific). These initiatives can surely stimulate economy development at the local, regional and global levels. The expended transport network could, however, bring in environmental and social impacts to the areas involved if the traffic flows are not properly managed in the network, especially at the nodes (e.g. ship-ship, ship-rail, rail-road etc.), which will cause delays, costs and pollution.
The WTO data on trade volumes and trends show that international maritime operators have significantly expanded capacity to meet demand from shippers and this has resulted in sustained levels of double digit annual growth in the number of full containers leaving Asia. As volumes have risen, congestion in main container ports and inland transport hubs has increased delays and transportation costs, and underlined a need for minimising delays due to a number of factors (e.g. intermodal transfer and unloading, missed connection between railroads, locating misplaced containers at the terminal) and for automated data handling and corrective and preventive action for deviation management.
Aims and Approach
In this project, a modelling and simulation tool with which solutions (and strategies) to tackle the aforementioned problems will be designed, tested and evaluated. This project will identify a use case to demonstrate the usefulness of the tool. The use case could cover one of the following areas:
- Policy Interventions: to assess the long-term impact of transport policies derived from the EU action against climate change on new business models in which a network of cost-effective and sustainable suppliers, transporters, and logistics handlers can be identified and optimised;
- Distribution Planning: to evaluate distribution solutions (e.g. factory location, warehousing and just-in-time practices) for mid-term improvements and innovations to meet client demands and to make the process more effective;
- Co-modality: to model the interactions of various transport modes and trip distributions, and optimise modal splits in the EU-China logistics and supply chain context;
- Inter-modality and Trans-modality: to enhance the connection between different modes, and optimise flows not only at the congested nodes but also over the entire network;
- Dynamic Routing: to enhance the feedback loops which are lacking in the current architectures and systems of global logistics to allow for deviation management and corrective and preventive action (CAPA).
Impact of Research
It is envisaged that the project will recommend substantial evidence-based recommendations to the development of global logistics, in particular between EU and China.
Entry requirements/necessary background:
A good background in numeric analysis, Physics, Mathematics or Statistics would be advantageous.
Please visit our LARS scholarship page for more information and further opportunities: https://www.environment.leeds.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research-degrees/lars-scholarships/