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Better ways to deploy military troops, manage military supply chains, and minimize river barge congestion may result from ORNL-UT teamwork.

Defense Transportation and
Logistics Research

On the large "video wall" of the National Transportation Research Center's (NTRC's) Operations Center, ORNL and University of Tennessee (UT) researchers will demonstrate to current and potential sponsors their latest computer programs for coordinating the actions of personnel and the deliveries of supplies. In this way, they can simulate an actual operations center or provide needed training.

In the early 1990s, this facility could have come in handy for demonstrating the Airlift Deployment Analysis System (ADANS). The system was developed partly by Glen Harrison, Mike Hilliard, Cheng Liu, Ingrid Busch, and Charlie Davis, all of the Center for Transportation Analysis (CTA) in ORNL's Energy Division, and several UT researchers, who are all now working at NTRC's Operations Center. ADANS is a series of scheduling algorithms and tools that enabled the Air Mobility Command of the U.S. Air Force to deploy troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf in 1990 and 1991 more rapidly and more efficiently than had been done before. Since then, ADANS has been used for all major U.S. deployments, including Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

ADANS is now being maintained by an Air Force subcontractor. However, Davis and Busch still provide assistance as consultants, and the CTA group still helps with improving the scheduling algorithm.

CTA, which has provided analytical and operational support to the defense transportation community for more than 15 years, will continue to do so at NTRC through its Defense Transportation and Logistics Program. It is developing innovative, practical tools and techniques that will be used to analyze and manage military transportation and logistics systems.

Working with Robert Russell and other staff from UT's Transportation Management and Logistics Program and private consultants, Harrison, Hilliard, Liu, Rekah Pillai, and Angela Sexton (Computational Physics and Engineering Division) are evaluating the Defense Logistic Agency's (DLA) management of its supply chain from cradle to grave. DLA's mission includes managing over four million consumable items and processing 83% of all Department of Defense requisitions.

"If the military forces fight with it, wear it, eat it, burn it as fuel, or otherwise use it, DLA probably provides it and then arranges for its reuse after the consumer no longer needs it," Hilliard says. "We examine the flow of consumables for DLA to see if they can be transported efficiently but at lower cost. Currently, many items are sent across the country by Federal Express or other premium shipping options, which is expensive.

"We look at how the services acquire items by purchasing them from vendors, where they are stored in depots, and how they are distributed to end users. The major storage depots are in California and Pennsylvania, with 20 local depots in between. We are studying the use of third-party logistics providers and information technology, to minimize the cost of storage and transportation of goods."

Another transportation-related logistics project involving the CTA group is the development and testing of the Ohio River Navigation Investment Model for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each year, more than 260 million tons of cargo move across the 2400 miles of the Ohio River system. The river is economically attractive as an alternative to rail and highway transportation of heavy bulk cargo such as coal, grains, and building materials if travel times are reasonable. However, as travel times increase because of congestion at the river's locks, the additional cost of operating a tow boat and barges cuts into the transportation savings.

Barge tows head downstream
Fifteen barge tows head downstream from Belleville Locks and down the Ohio River. Construction on the far side of the dam is a hydro electric power plant. Belleville Lock and Dam is located on West Virginia and Ohio shores and was completed in 1968.

The ORNL-UT computer model examines the economics of shipping goods by barge on the Ohio River over the next 70 years as barge traffic increases. The model calculates the risks of lock closures that could result from failures in lock components, maintenance activities, and blockages caused by, say, barge collisions and floating logs.

"Our model will determine what investments should be made by the Army Corps of Engineers to expand, repair, or replace locks to maximize the flow of barge traffic and yield maximum economic benefits to the nation," Hilliard says. "We evaluate the economics of various options at each lock. One option is to replace the electrical system and other components early to prevent lock failures. Another option at the smaller locks is to double lock size to allow a tow boat pushing 15 barges to get through without having to stop, break apart some barges, and push only half as many through the lock at one time. Of course, lock construction and other options, such as shifting some cargo to trucks and trains during the work, have a cost."


The ORNL-UT model could help the Army Corps of Engineers improve its operations on the nation's river systems.

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Related Web sites

ORNL's Center for Transportation Analysis (CTA)
ORNL's Energy Division
Defense Logistics Agency
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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