Help solve Santa's seasonal logistics problem, with Edinburgh Napier University
A new online ‘Route Santa’ page, where anyone can add their house to the map to ensure Santa arrives with their presents on time, has been developed by computing experts from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, UK.
The software developed by the experts is designed to help companies optimise their delivery strategies in time for Christmas.
Using Google Maps, the system reveals the most efficient delivery option including the minimum number of delivery vans required, the cost of journeys and the best route that should be taken in order to fulfil the required number of orders. The software should ensure orders are fulfilled within specified time-frames and in the most economical and sustainable way.
The techniques have also been incorporated into a new online ‘Route Santa’ page, where anyone can add their house to the map to ensure their presents arrive on time and assist Mr Claus in his logistical nightmare.
Dr Neil Urquhart, Software Engineering Programme Leader at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Managing delivery logistics effectively and efficiently is a challenge faced by companies and manufacturers of all sizes on a daily basis. The goal is to distribute to as many customers as possible, using the most cost effective and environmentally sustainable route within the desired delivery schedules.
“The approach we’re using addresses this potentially complicated business objective by adapting existing scientific techniques into an easy-to-use format using Google Maps. The optimisation algorithms quickly come up with solutions – including the minimum number of delivery vans required, the cost of journeys and producing route maps to fulfil the desired number of orders.”
Senior Industry Consultant in Strategic Supply Chain Management, Kenny Wiggins, said: “The major part of any decision making process is the analysis of the set of available alternatives. The development of software tools to aid in this decision process will greatly increase the effectiveness of the decisions that are made by allowing the user to make an 'informed assessment' of the options.
“In this specific example, it can help firms in the distribution sector considerably not just in effective route planning, but also with improvements in vehicle and resource utilisation, which in turn will lead to a reduction in overall business operating costs."
The project is one example of the work being done by Edinburgh Napier as part of its involvement in the Business Innovation Exchange (BIE) which aims to provide SMEs with easier access to academic know how, facilities and intellectual property. BIE is funded by the ERDF and the Scottish Funding Council.
DHL Express Invests in Electric Cargo Plane Fleet
DHL Express has ordered 12 fully electric cargo planes to supercharge efforts in reducing carbon emissions across its US delivery network.
The Alice eCargo planes are manufactured by Seattle startup Eviation, and are designed specifically to be configured for either cargo or passengers. The first planes are expected to be delivered to DHL Express in 2024.
“We have found the perfect partner with Eviation as they share our purpose, and together we will take off into a new era of sustainable aviation,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express.
The purchase forms part of DHL’s €7bn investment in reducing CO2 emissions by 2030, with a zero emissions target set for 2050.
“We firmly believe in a future with zero-emission logistics,” Pearson added. “On our way to clean logistics operations, the electrification of every transport mode plays a crucial role and will significantly contribute to our overall sustainability goal of zero emissions.”
What is Eviation's Alice Aircraft?
- Manufacturer: Eviation
- Capacity: 1,200kg
- Range: 815km
- Charge time: 30 minutes
- Launching: 2024
Eviation’s Alice aircraft enable cargo and passenger airlines to operate zero-emission fleets. The plane can be flown by one pilot and is capable of carrying 1,200kg, with a maximum range of 815km.
The aircraft can be fully charged in 30 minutes, which can take place while the vehicle is loaded and unloaded between flights. Eviation says that, because the aircraft has fewer moving parts - or points of failure - than traditional aircraft, they are more reliable and reduce maintenance overheads and downtime.
“With Alice’s range and capacity, this is a fantastic sustainable solution for our global network,” said Travis Cobb, EVP Global Network Operations and Aviation for DHL Express. “Our aspiration is to make a substantial contribution in reducing our carbon footprint, and these advancements in fleet and technology will go a long way in achieving further carbon reductions.”
How Does Alice Compare with UPS’ eVTOLs?
DHL Express is not alone in electrifying the skies. In April, UPS announced a new fleet of eVTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft, from Beta Technologies, which will enter service in 2024.
UPS’ vehicles can carry 635kg with a 400km range and cruising speeds of up to 170mph. The eVTOLs can carry cargo to several short-hops or one long route on a single charge, and are aimed at healthcare organisation, SMEs and businesses in small or remote communities.
“These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation,” said Juan Perez, UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer.
The first 10 eVTOLs will be delivered in 2024, with the option for UPS to order up to 150 more.