Hutchison Port Holdings uses Geoconcept to create a flexible path to future developments of the Paris product

The challenge

  • Providing an advanced timedistance calculation engine for PARIS software
  • The ability to handle very complex routing problems quickly
  • Tighter integration of time-distance matrix with the core PARIS product
  • Inclusion of a full application programming interface

The introduction of Geoconcept has provided a flexible path to future developments of the PARIS product.

parisThe PARIS transport planning software system from Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd is used widely to help plan container movements. It creates the optimal transport plan, matching import container loads with export reloads automatically, allocating containers to rail, barge and feeder services, and optimally positioning empty containers to produce the overall least cost transport plan, saving planning time, cost and resources.

The optimisation process involves multiple collection and delivery points, and has to take account of fleet availability, cost, distance, time and many other variable factors. This means the system has to consider thousands of possible vehicle movements in order to establish the “best fit” in cost terms for current requirements. To make these calculations, PARIS accesses a time/distance matrix calculation engine, which works out how long each possible journey would take.

As part of its continual improvement programme, Hutchison decided to look for a time-distance calculation system that could be integrated more tightly with the core product. In particular, it wanted a system that incorporated a full API (application programming interface), which meant it could interact with PARIS’s C++ programming environment at a low level, opening up new development opportunities for the future.

The solution

  • The Geoconcept geographic information system
  • Geoxplorer Professional and SmartRouting run-times
  • AA 1:200,000 vector mapping for GB
  • Geoplan Pro sector, district and area points for the UK

Geoconcept’s SmartRouting functionality has provided PARIS with the ability to handle very complex routing problems at high speed.

MAPMECHANICS has supplied Hutchison with Geoconcept, one of the leading geographic information systems, along with the GeoXplorer Professional and SmartRouting run-times. It has also supplied digital mapping in the form of AA 1:200,000 vector mapping for GB and Geoplan Pro sector, district and area points for the UK.

Few off-the-shelf routing products offered the kind of API required, but Geoconcept matched Hutchison’s requirements closely. Geoconcept offers an extensive range of powerful map-based analysis and display capabilities. It comes into its own in applications such as Hutchison’s PARIS through its ability to provide seamless “black box” integration with third-party software.

In this case Geoconcept’s SmartRouting functionality has provided PARIS with the ability to handle very complex routing problems at high speed. It takes multiple pairs of origin and destination map coordinates such as start and finish points of container movements, and generates drivetime and distance values “on the fly”. Its fast programming algorithms allow it to perform this task extremely quickly, returning the results in milliseconds.

The benefits

  • A flexible path to future developments of the PARIS product
  • Ability to vary specific road speeds to reflect “real-world” driver experience
  • Opportunity for operators to calculate accurate time bands for charging
  • Ability to apply restricted speeds to entire areas such as Greater London

The upgraded system is now in use with several container shipping lines and transport operators, some of whom are using it daily to manage fleet operations involving hundreds of vehicles each.

The introduction of Geoconcept has provided a flexible path to future developments of the PARIS product. Geoconcept has also introduced some additional capabilities to the system. In particular, using Geoconcept makes it possible to vary the speeds allocated to individual road segments, which means speed parameters can be amended to reflect the “real-world” experience of drivers in the field.

This is invaluable, for instance, where a stretch of road is subject to frequent traffic congestion, reducing typical speeds to a level that is not necessarily indicated by its classification.

Having an accurate, configurable distance calculation system is also important because container operators tend to charge customers on the basis of distance bands, so these need to be calculated as accurately as possible.

In addition, Geoconcept allows speeds to be modified on a broader basis. As an example, the system can use this ability to set a low speed for the whole London area to simulate the cost penalty imposed by the Congestion Charge.

The upgraded system is now in use with several container shipping lines and transport operators, some of whom are using it daily to manage fleet operations involving hundreds of vehicles each.