Driver Management for Less-than-Truckload Carriers
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The trucking industry is vitally important to the economy, providing an essential service by transporting goods between businesses and consumers. The less-than-truckload (LTL) industry is an important segment, serving businesses that ship quantities between 150 lbs and 10,000 lbs. Large LTL carriers use thousands of drivers to move loads between terminals in their network, and each driver may be used for multiple dispatches between rest periods. Driver wages are a major component of transportation costs. Consequently, cost-effective driver management is of crucial importance for the profitability of LTL carriers. This thesis investigates a variety of issues related to driver management. In this thesis, we describe a dynamic driver scheduling scheme developed for a large U.S. LTL carrier. Dynamic driver scheduling is challenging because drivers must abide by a complex set of rules, including government and union regulations, and trucking moves are not pre-scheduled. The technology developed combines greedy search with enumeration of time-feasible driver duties, and is capable of generating cost-effective schedules covering 15,000 20,000 loads in minutes. One of the key tactical questions faced by an LTL carrier is how many drivers to locate at each terminal. Unionized carriers have bid drivers that can only move loads between their domicile and a designated region. The developed allocation technology determines the number of drivers to allocate to each terminal as well as the designated region for bid drivers. Computational experiments based on real-life dispatch data demonstrate the effectiveness of our domiciling methodology, and show that union rules may result in substantially larger driver fleets, in some cases up to 50% larger. Finally, we investigate a fundamental question related to driver management in order to obtain some fundamental insights: determining the minimum number of drivers required to cover a set of loaded moves. The problem is shown to be polynomially solvable without any restrictions on driver schedules. For variants with restrictions, several easily computable lower bounds are derived, integer programming formulations are presented, and fast heuristics are designed and analyzed. A computational study provides insights into the quality of the lower bounds and heuristic solutions.
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