Optimisation of loading docks in new buildings
Current methods for calculating and understanding the freight task generated by a CBD building are both dated and don’t provide a great deal of insight. Transport for NSW and the University of Melbourne have now been completed the Optimisation of loading docks in new buildings project and released a white paper that describes the development of an Enhanced Decision Support Tool to calculate the freight task and the required provision of on-site loading docks in new buildings.
The associated white paper is a technical document describing the methodologies applied to develop a robust calculation for the freight transport task. This can ultimately assist planners in developing better outcomes for urban transport planning.
With a robust forecasting approach developed, the broader aim is to make a method accessible for use by stakeholders to assess a new development’s loading dock requirements in Sydney and other Australian cities.
The study took survey data from a number of buildings of mixed land use, sizes and locations. Data collected included:
- Characterisation of freight & service (F&S) vehicle movements into the building
- Distribution of vehicle profiles and parking durations per land use type
- Frequency of vehicles arriving throughout the day
- Assessment of vehicle class and purpose
- Distribution of parking time by the hour of the day
The data has been analysed and developed into a series of detailed coefficients that provide great insight into a buildings freight task. It is also developed in such a way that future data can also be added to the analysis.
Whereas previous methods from government would simply state a number of loading dock spaces required, the developed capability provides in depth explanation of the buildings expected freight task across the day, the types and purpose of the vehicles arriving at the site, how long they expect to be there for and hence the different sizes of spaces require to support the building. The decision support environment enables planners to assess the service level impact of different configurations of loading dock provision.
Based on the coefficients developed in regression analysis, the optimisation algorithm searches over various combinations of small, medium and large spaces to find the optimal solution that meets the required efficacy level of meeting a certain threshold of parking demand.
What then? And why?
Overall, the optimal dock configuration recommended by the optimisation solver does not only focus on satisfying the estimated parking demand, but also consider minimising the overall area of the dock and other supporting regulations such as specified minimum number of loading spaces for medium and/or large vehicles. Hence, the multi-criteria perspective applied in the decision-support process facilitates considering the various requirements and expectations of the different stakeholders.
Discussion points in the white paper include:
- Merit and usability of the model
- Model applicability
- Further potential of the model
- Where docks should be located
The next phase for Transport for NSW is to develop this into a web app to be accessible to all interested users.
UPDATE: 1 July 2021
Information and findings about this project were also presented at a recent iMOVE webinar. We recorded the event, and it can be watched at: VIDEO: Progress toward more efficient supply chains.
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