Reducing the distance one has to travel in a vehicle can help decrease carbon emissions caused by combustion of fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel.
Heuristic methods and genetic algorithms inspired by natural evolution can help find solutions for transportation problems where such routing aspects and client needs come into play.
Dr. S. P. Anbuudayasankar of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Amrita’s Coimbatore campus explored such methods in his thesis titled Unified
Heuristics for a Class of Complex and Practical Routing Problems in Logistics.
This won Dr. Anbuudayasankar the best thesis award at the Fourth Conference on Global Advances and Innovations in IT and Management in Gwalior.
Dr. Anbuudayasankar developed the unified heuristic methods during his doctoral work completed at Amrita, under the guidance of Dr. K. Mohandas, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Dr. K. Ganesh, Knowledge Specialist, Supply Chain Management, McKinsey Knowledge Center India Pvt Ltd.
Dr. Anbuudayasankar obtained his PhD in 2011. Besides presenting his results at international conferences on logistics and supply chain management, he also published papers in noted national and international journals.
“In evolution, the most suitable genes in a generation are selected to be passed on to the next generation. Genetic algorithms also similarly aim at finding the best solution from a given population of solutions,” explained Dr. Anbuudayasankar.
“In Operational Research, Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP) and Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) are two most widely studied optimization problems. The goal in both is to help reduce the total distance traveled by a vehicle, while at the same time satisfying the needs of the customer,” he added.
In order to find optimal solutions to variants of TSP and VRP, Dr. Anbuudayasankar suggested not only the use of genetic algorithms but also simulated annealing, the latter referring to the task of finding an acceptably good solution in a fixed amount of time.
His studies marked a solid contribution to the field of business management, and are expected to lead to better business practices. Logistics and distribution problems are usually currently solved by mental calculations and quick judgments.
“My study considered different types of TSP and VRP such as multiple vehicles problems, workload balancing, simultaneous and mixed loads, constrained capacity and forced backhauls. These variants, complex by nature, are normally encountered in practice, but have so far not received much attention. They pertain to different fields of logistics such as Balanced Logistics, Reverse Logistics, Distribution Logistics and Urgency Logistics for application in both manufacturing and service industries,” Dr. Anbuudayasankar elaborated.
“By addressing a vital component in the domain of Logistics and Distribution Management, my thesis contributed to Academics by filling a research gap; to Technology by providing a decision-making tool to improve productivity; and to Society by potentially helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he concluded.
February 19, 2013
School of Engineering, Coimbatore