A Shortest Path Heuristic for Evaluating the Quality of Stowage Plans in Roll-On Roll-Off Liner Shipping
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLecture Notes in Computer Science. 2017, 10572 351-365. 10.1007/978-3-319-68496-3_24
Roll-on Roll-off shipping companies transport rolling cargo, such as cars, trucks and large construction machines. When sailing, this type of cargo must be attached to the deck using chains, to prevent damaging the cargo. For each voyage including multiple port calls where the cargo is loaded/unloaded, an important decision is to decide where to place each vehicle (or unit), such that the time used on shifting is minimized. Shifting means temporarily moving some vehicles to make an entry/exit route for the vehicles that are to be loaded/unloaded at a given port. As the vehicles are securely fastened to the deck, shifting is a time-consuming procedure. We present the stowage plan evaluation problem which is to determine the optimal vehicles to shift at each port call, such that the time spent on shifting is minimized. Given a set of alternative stowage plans for a voyage, the results from the stowage plan evaluation problems are used to determine the best among these stowage plans. We present a shortest path based heuristic for solving the problem. Computational results show that the solution method is a powerful tool for comparing stowage plans, due to its fast computing times and high success rate, i.e. its ability to determine the better of two stowage plans.