The Toronto Intelligent Decision Engineering Laboratory
Optimization in Forestry Logistics and Scheduling

Optimization in Forestry Logistics and Scheduling


J. Christopher Beck
Amir Sepasi

Project description

The tactical forest logistics problem of supplying timber to wood mills requires the integration of inventory management (to store the right amounts of the right types of timber at wood mills and forest areas), routing (to plan the routes of trucks between wood mills and forest areas), and scheduling (to schedule the use of loaders at wood mills and forest areas to load and unload the trucks).

One of major challenges of this problem lies in the need to synchronize the trucks with the loading and unloading equipment available at the forests sites and mills. Underlying the need for such integrated optimization is the inherent uncertainty in the system: both supply and demand are uncertain in quality and time; loading and unloading activities are subject to congestion at the forest site and wood mill; and travel times vary due to weather and road conditions. Integrating transportation planning, inventory, and loader scheduling therefore requires modeling and solving a complex, integrated, and stochastic problem. In an environment where distances can be large, the variability of the driving time can be the same order of magnitude as the service time. It is thus important to incorporate, as much as possible, these uncertain aspects into the schedule.

We aim to integrate the approaches developed at École Polytechnique and University of Toronto to model and solve problems in a real-time environment where the uncertainty in travel time, service time and inventory level are taken into account. To achieve this goal we will pursue research on the following topics:
  • A fast re-optimization algorithm, which can be applied in a real-time environment, in order to provide assistance whenever the current plan/schedule can no longer be followed due to unforeseen events.
  • Optimization models that take into account the uncertainty which lies in the scheduling and routing aspects of the problems, such as loading and unloading service time, machines failures, congestion at the mills (e.g., due to arrivals of trucks from another company).


October 2011 - February 2012

University of Toronto Mechanical and Information Engineering