Project: Research project

Project Details




A POWRE award supports an investigation of the use of dynamic flow control as a mechanism for integrating management systems for freight movement with management systems for roadway operations. In the next twenty years, domestic and international marine trade is expected to more than double with most of this growth expected in marine containerized trade. Many of the nation's leading ports are located in densely developed urban areas where the availability of additional space for piers, container storage, railroad tracks and roadways for trucks to handle increases in freight traffic is limited. To handle this expected growth, the intermodal freight transportation system must be planned, built and operated in a way that emphasizes optimal utilization of existing resources. The intermodal system should also be designed to ensure that connections between modes provide a smooth flow of goods through an integrated system. Before these objectives can be achieved, tools are needed to represent intermodal transportation as an integrated system. Dynamic flow control offers an approach for integrating the components of intermodal freight transportation into a system.

The objective of the control problem is to design a controller that will optimize the flow of intermodal freight from the terminal to a distribution center. This type of problem has its basis in classical automatic control theory and has been applied in many areas including rail and air traffic control. Few applications of dynamic flow control have been made in the field of intermodal freight transportation. The goal of this procedure is to determine the set of inputs that, given the state of the system and disturbances within the system, will result in the objectives being fulfilled. The system includes the components that make up the intermodal freight transportation network for receiving and delivering goods. The system will be limited to include intermodal components necessary for truck transport of goods from a shipper through an urban port facility and for distribution within an urban area. The intermodal connections are linked within the system using information about each component of the intermodal system and the roadway system. The inputs into the control problem include variables describing the volume of intermodal freight movement, the requirements or criteria of the truck pick-up and delivery service, port and terminal activity and roadway conditions. The research will identify a preliminary control system for intermodal freight transportation, identify the data requirements for the control system, develop models describing the state of the freight management system and the roadway system, and finally evaluate the control system for an intermodal freight movement from the Port of New York and New Jersey to a destination in northern New Jersey and New York.

This research initiates a new line of investigation while allowing the researcher to achieve career goals and secure a visible and prominent role in the area of freight movement in northeastern United States. Recent developments within the researcher's home institution and state provide opportunities for the research to be utilized on a broad platform. The development of an intermodal freight corridor in the researcher's home state, the establishment of an International Intermodal Transportation Corridor Center, and the initiation of a Logistics Engineering program at the researcher's home institution will provide opportunities to explore additional research and educational opportunities in the area of freight management and logistics. As the PI has recently relocated to her present research institution, funding provided through this program will allow the researcher to broaden her focus area to include intermodal freight transportation as an area of investigation, while adapting her research to her home institution and to local and national interests.


Effective start/end date7/1/006/30/02


  • National Science Foundation: $74,938.00


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