Help solve Santa's seasonal logistics problem, with Edinburgh Napier University

By Freddie Pierce
Follow @SupplyChainD A new online ‘Route Santapage, where anyone can add their house to the map to ensure Santa arrives with their presents on ti...

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 UniversityScotland, 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.

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 “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.

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