De Montfort University and a number of partners in the logistics and IT fields have produced a software programme to match empty capacity on vehicles with available loads. This was possible with the support of grants from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). This software can be used by companies with large numbers of loads to allocate between numerous sub-contractors or it can be an open platform for many customers and suppliers.
The software not only looks for back-loading opportunities but also space on existing outward trips. Once identified as a possible match the vehicle operator is asked whether they want to include it in the trip. If the answer is yes the system re-calculates the total trip still taking into account all the existing parameters.
The contractor negotiates rates directly with the potential customer.
Based on previous activity a satisfaction index is produced for both contractors and the companies offering the loads to assist with the decision making.
Companies can upload their vehicle schedules daily and loads are matched to the extra capacity. Using MSA’s route planning and optimisation software the fleet can be re-optimised to take into account the additional deliveries.
A cost calculator is also included to give the contractor an idea of additional costs and revenue if the load is taken on.
A carbon emissions calculator is included and a mobile application has also been produced for owner drivers and couriers.
The project team is currently looking for companies to demonstrate the software to and discuss potential enhancements.
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.