Good planning is essential to minimize costs and environmental impact while maintaining a high level of animal welfare. Designing this type of transport needs, is however a complex task when decisions contain a variety of factors that must be addressed. It's about the slaughterhouses production plan, available animals of different types (organic, eco, etc.), rules on how different animals can be loaded together and how long they may be transported, if they shall be lairaged overnight or not, lorries different loading facilities, etc. Moreover, there are no IT-based decision support systems why virtually all the planning is done more or less manually. Normally, the slaughter company creates a rough plan to allocate transportation missions to fleets which then makes detailed route plans for a week at a time.
In the forestry sector, the transport planning is largely similar to slaughter transport planning. There have been several years of development and in research purposes testing of a model for optimization of roundwood transportation with good results.
In my work, we in the research group develop and test optimization models that can be used in planning the slaughter transports. In a joint project with HKScan and Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), we build on knowledge from the optimization of roundwood transport and apply them in the development of new models. The new model differs from the previous by the fact that we must manage queuing (at the slaughterhouse) and mixed loads (collect animals on several farms in the same route) and skidding, which is a method to improve transport efficiency by two trucks interacting in loading animals but only one of the trucks running all the way to the slaughterhouse.
An important part of the work is to ensure the practical usefulness of the model. There is often a big difference between developing and testing a model in the research environment and to develop a model that works in practice. We therefore attach great importance to practical tests and discussions with transportation managers and transporters. We also have a strong focus on ensuring high animal welfare.