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 the profit margin but also increase customer service and hence market share.
From an environmental viewpoint, a reduction of unnecessary transport movement will reduce gas emissions and reduce the risk of accidents. The integration of deliveries with pickups can make the entire distribution system, wherever practically possible, more efficient on all fronts (costs, environment, etc.).
Following recent natural and man-made disasters enhancing security by providing extra protection to some facilities or parts of the supply chain is now high on the research agenda. As technology has advanced, taking decisions in real-time has become the best and the most appropriate way forward.
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 to tackle real-life problems arising both in the public and the private sectors. Some of these applications include scheduling and routing, production, facility location, network security enhancement. Other areas such as data mining and aspects of health management and medicine, finance and the environment are also considered.
- 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 problem. Such approaches are now commonly adopted not only in business management but also in engineering, health, finance and environmental management. We seek to find optimal or near-optimal solutions within a reasonable amount of computing time.