STARS determines optimal routing and schedules for delivery vehicles. As a daily operational tool, STARS can reduce operating costs substantially by minimizing driving distance and time while meeting stringent operational, logistical and customer constraints. Based on innovative mathematical approaches, STARS can develop elegant and practical delivery plans for such challenging requirements, including multiple time windows, vehicle capacities, limited numbers of vehicle availability, operating hours of trucks, drivers and depots.

To date, STARS has been successfully applied to several real-world daily vehicle dispatching cases, including petroleum tank, package delivery, food and drink delivery, publication delivery and automobile parts.

STARS can be applied to various distribution networks. For example, state-of-the-art large scale optimization techniques have been successfully applied to large-scale hub & Spoke type networks (express package delivery, automobile, etc.). Just-in-time vehicle routing is another industry-specific example.

Solutions to complex delivery problems

We have contributed to finding solutions to touch and challenging logistics problems by applying STARS, including cases:

  • Lack or shortage of drivers
  • Lack of personnel with skills in vehicle routing and scheduling
  • Deterioration of load factors, increases in delivery costs
  • Accommodating stringent conditions such as time windows and vehicle type matching
  • Too many last-minute changes and cancellations
  • Frequent delayed arrivals without any specific reasons
  • Lack of control due to outsourcing, no knowledge in efficiency and costs
  • Too many emergency for-hire trucks
  • Delay in adopting innovations and new technology

Expected Benefits

By adopting STARS, one can expect such benefits as

  • Reduction of delivery costs (5 ~ 30%), reduction of unnecessary vehicles, driving distances, and operational hours
  • Flexible customization to industry-specific cases by utilizing multiple versions of STARS
  • Fast solution time by taking advantage of mathematical programming theory and innovative software techniques
  • Consolidates loads and optimizes vehicle capacities quickly even for thousands of delivery destinations
  • Helps developing strategic plans, such as introduction of new customers and products, new delivery services and territories and M&A

Case Studies

1. Tank Truck Scheduling

STARS saved substantial delivery costs when it was used in petroleum and chemical industries. In particular, special structures of tank truck give rise to extra complexities to vehicle routing calculation, including small number of products per truck by tanks, avoidance of cleanings between trips, and location of valves and hoses in trucks. One of the major petroleum companies in Japan saved tens of millions of dollars annually by applying STARS.

2. Just-In-Time Vehicle Routing

Automobile industry in Japan is known for stringent inventory policy, known as just-in-time production. As a consequence, when an parts company makes delivery schedules to a company like Toyota, schedules are very complex and challenging (40+ delivery trucks on one route each day, multiple drivers for a same truck each day, multi-day trips with multiple drivers, etc.). We have successfully developed a vehicle routing and scheduling system for such a parts manufacturer, and helped automated a complex and heavily manual process.

3. Express Package Delivery Network

Competition among express package delivery companies has been fierce lately due to increased volume of e-commerce business. Carriers and e-commerce companies need to develop strategic plants to mitigate problems by sudden increase in package volumes. We have developed a special version of STARS for such a customer and help them create smart distribution network strategies with innovative application of optimization scheme called column-generation and decomposition algorithm.

4. Cross-docking Strategy

Cross-docking is frequently used for delivery network with multiple sources and multiple destinations. However, the boundary for separating cases with clear benefits vs. other cases is vague and often misunderstood. We have developed cross-docking strategy checking solutions by STARS, which clearly identifies cross-docking opportunities for some networks.

Computational Environment and Licensing

STARS runs on a Windows PC under Excel. Permanent licensing as well as rental options are available for 3 to 12 months.