A simulation analysis of spoke-terminals operating in LTL Hub-and-Spoke freight distribution systems


DUE TO COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION AT ASTON UNIVERSITY LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES WITH PRIOR ARRANGEMENT The research presented in this thesis is concerned with Discrete-Event Simulation (DES) modelling as a method to facilitate logistical policy development within the UK Less-than-Truckload (LTL) freight distribution sector which has been typified by “Pallet Networks” operating on a hub-and-spoke philosophy. Current literature relating to LTL hub-and-spoke and cross-dock freight distribution systems traditionally examines a variety of network and hub design configurations. Each is consistent with classical notions of creating process efficiency, improving productivity, reducing costs and generally creating economies of scale through notions of bulk optimisation. Whilst there is a growing abundance of papers discussing both the network design and hub operational components mentioned above, there is a shortcoming in the overall analysis when it comes to discussing the “spoke-terminal” of hub-and-spoke freight distribution systems and their capabilities for handling the diverse and discrete customer profiles of freight that multi-user LTL hub-and-spoke networks typically handle over the “last-mile” of the delivery, in particular, a mix of retail and non-retail customers. A simulation study is undertaken to investigate the impact on operational performance when the current combined spoke-terminal delivery tours are separated by ‘profile-type’ (i.e. retail or nonretail). The results indicate that a potential improvement in delivery performance can be made by separating retail and non-retail delivery runs at the spoke-terminal and that dedicated retail and non-retail delivery tours could be adopted in order to improve customer delivery requirements and adapt hub-deployed policies. The study also leverages key operator experiences to highlight the main practical implementation challenges when integrating the observed simulation results into the real-world. The study concludes that DES be harnessed as an enabling device to develop a ‘guide policy’. This policy needs to be flexible and should be applied in stages, taking into account the growing retail-exposure.

Divisions: Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
Additional Information: Full text for this thesis will not be made available online.
Institution: Aston University
Completed Date: 2013-06-06
Authors: Assi, Anand


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