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Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation

Shipping containers

Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation

Director of CLHO | Professor Said Salhi

The Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation addresses facility location and vehicle routing problems through flexible and practical optimisation approaches. It is the UK’s largest location analysis and routing research centre and one of the leading centres in Europe.

Locating the right number of facilities (plants, depots, fire stations, police stations, ambulance stations, etc.) at the right place can save companies and the government time and money while adding competitive advantages. For instance, in the public sector, locating an ambulance station at the right place can save lives and relieve distress to families. Using the right fleet and the right routes can not only improve a company or public body’s profit margin but also increase the availability of customer services and hence the company’s market share.

From an environmental viewpoint, a reduction of unnecessary transport movements reduces gas emissions together with the risk of accidents. The integration of deliveries with pickups makes the entire distribution system, wherever practically possible, more efficient on all fronts (costs, environment, etc.).

Following recent natural and man-made disasters, the research agenda is intensely focussed on providing extra protection to some facilities or parts of the supply chain by enhancing its security. As technology has advanced, taking decisions in real-time has become the best and the most appropriate way forward.

World-leading experts

Researchers from the Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation regularly collaborate with industry partners to improve their operations through the use of advanced computational models.

The aims of the Centre for Logistics and Heuristics Optimisation are:

  • To concentrate on new applied research developments in the area of logistics using heuristic search and practical optimisation at Kent Business School. This tackles real-life problems arising both in the public and the private sectors. Applications of the research include scheduling and routing, production, facility location or network security enhancement. Other areas such as data mining and aspects of health management and medicine, finance and the environment are also being pursued.
  • To be at the forefront of theoretical research in the general areas of heuristic search: design of new facets within heuristics, construct efficient data structures and appropriate neighbourhoods, deal with robust optimisation, use of information, combine exact and heuristics, analysis of heuristics, among others.
  • To act as a focal point to attract visiting scholars, research fellowships, PhD and MSc by research in the areas of heuristics and practical optimisation for combinatorial and global optimisation with special emphasis in logistics research.
  • To assist companies in tackling complex strategic, tactical and operational problems that require modelling and expertise in quantitative techniques such as optimisation in general and heuristics in particular, especially in the area of logistics.

Heuristic search is a research area in optimisation incorporating computational skills, mathematical and statistical logic and above all a good insight of the problems at hand. New developments include hybridisation and deep learning, some refer to these as AI. Such approaches are now commonly adopted not only in business management but also in engineering, health, finance and environmental management. The goal is to design intelligent optimisation /scheduling tools  to find optimal or near-optimal solutions within a reasonable amount of computing time.