It is important for liner shipping companies to maintain cost efficient and robust liner shipping networks. Regularly, they set up pro-forma schedules, yet it is difficult to stay on time. We consider the problem of managing the delays. Therefore, we need to determine an optimal recovery policy and buffer time allocation to the ship route in order to minimize the total costs associated with delays and recovery actions, such as increasing sailing speed. We introduce a general framework consisting of a mixed integer programming formulation to solve discrete stochastic decision problems with short and long term decisions and apply this framework to the above described problem. Furthermore, we propose and test four heuristics for this problem. We compared the results of our method with an existing liner shipping route schedule and found a cost decrease of 28.9% after optimizing the buffer time distribution compared to the cost of sailing the current route schedule at constant speed.

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Keywords OR in maritime industry, Discrete stochastic decision problems, Liner shipping, Robust scheduling, (Online) speed optimization
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Journal European Journal of Operational Research
Mulder, J, & Dekker, R. (2018). Designing robust liner shipping schedules: Optimizing recovery actions and buffer times. European Journal of Operational Research, 272, 132–146. doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2018.05.066