Our research in the area of logistics focuses on mathematical modeling and optimization of decision problems involving the movement of goods throughout distribution systems.  This movement of goods typically involves freight transportation decisions, and the associated decision models incorporate the cost structures found in freight movement.  While the goal of these decision models is often to achieve efficient operations for a particular organization or supply chain, we are also interested in problems that characterize the aggregate impacts of the freight transportation decisions of multiple decision makers on highway, rail, air, and waterway infrastructure.  We are also interested in methods for characterizing how infrastructure translates to freight movement capacity, and the link between this capacity and economic performance.

Example Projects

Customer Service Measurement and Last Mile Schedule Planning at CSX (August 2012 – December 2013, PI: J. Geunes; Funded by CSX Transportation)

CSX records global positioning system (GPS) data to track the movements of local trains on its network. This project provides a thorough analysis of this data in order to accurately estimate the distribution of customer service times. Understanding the factors that determine the distribution of customer service times will enable customer service improvements via more effective and efficient planning and execution of schedules. More accurate knowledge of service and transit times will permit proactive planning and routing of local trains, more efficient utilization of crews and equipment, and improved customer perception of the service capability of CSX.

Improving Transit Operations for Crowley Maritime (August 2012 – December 2013, PI: J. Geunes; Funded by Crowley Maritime)

Crowley Maritime spends more than $100 million annually on moving cargo to and from ports for shipments to and from the US.  Of this, approximately 29% is spent moving “empty” equipment in which the movement of freight containers does not generate revenue.   The goal of this project is to develop and implement optimization models for the planning movement of cargo that results in a reduction of empty movements and thereby, saves cost.


Elif Akcali

Associate Professor Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering