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An agent-based location evaluation model

Sirikijpanichkul, Ackchai (2008) An agent-based location evaluation model. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Truck transportation is considered as a favourable mode by shippers to carry freight at most ranges of distance as it has more flexibility in fleet size, capacity, scheduling, routing, and access. Although truck is considered as the popular mode for freight transportation, road-rail intermodal freight transportation becomes an attractive alternative to road only mode since the latter has no longer assured a reliable service due to traffic congestion problem. It also raises public concern in environmental and road safety impacts. Intermodal freight transportation is defined as a system that carries freight from origin to destination using two or more transportation modes where transfers between modes occur at an intermodal freight terminal. Success of the terminal depends on four major factors, namely: location, efficiency, financial sustainability, and rail level of service. Among these, the location is one of the most crucial success factors and needs to be considered carefully as it has direct and indirect impacts on a number of stakeholders including terminal users, terminal operators, transport network infrastructure providers, and community. Limitations of previous terminal location evaluation models in representing individual preference and behaviour as well as accommodating negotiation and communication between the players bring in an opportunity to develop a new model which is more flexible and capable of providing a solution that is not necessary to be optimal, but acceptable for every player without requiring explicit trade-offs. This thesis is aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of applying an agent-based approach to the evaluation of intermodal freight terminal location and investigating terminal effectiveness against stakeholder equity and some important aspects arising from the different stakeholders’ viewpoints. Agent technologies were introduced to model the stakeholders as individual agents. The agent concept was adopted to develop a decentralised location evaluation system that is able to balance the terminal effectiveness with the stakeholder equity. The proposed agent-based location evaluation model was modelled as a hierarchical control system that comprises three decision levels: local level, stakeholder level and policy level. Policy level is the highest decision level, which is represented by a policy maker. Apart from the policy level, the rest can be viewed as operational decision levels. Local level is the lowest control level. At this level, each stakeholder was classified into stakeholder groups based on their characteristics and interest. The terminal scenarios were then evaluated based on benefit maximisation criteria. Stakeholder control is the higher control level than the local level. It represents the control level where negotiations and decisions between groups of people (stakeholders) with different point of views are made. At this level, negotiation process was used to determine terminal location based on preference and equity of stakeholders. The determined terminal site was then used in the evaluation against constraints to ensure that all agents are satisfied. The terminal location decision for South East Queensland (SEQ) was applied as a case study of this thesis. The SEQ strategic freight transport model was developed, calibrated, and validated to assist in providing inputs for the evaluation of terminal location. The results indicated that for the developed agent-based location evaluation model, Yatala was selected as the most appropriate terminal location that results in the highest effectiveness and equity (as measured by level of satisfaction and Gini coefficient, respectively). Other location evaluation models were also used in comparison with the developed agent-based location evaluation model. Those include P-Median, P-Centre, and maximum covering models. It was found that the agent-based location evaluation model outperformed the other location evaluation models. Finally, a sensitivity analysis was conducted in order to evaluate the consistency of model outputs against the uncertainties in the input parameters. In most cases, the terminal location decisions obtained from the developed agent-based location evaluation model was not sensitive to the changes in those parameters. However, the results suggested that when a unit cost of truck travel delay increased, the impact on the final terminal location decisions was observed. This thesis demonstrated the feasibility of applying a decentralised approach to terminal location decision problem using a multi-agent concept and evaluating it against other well-known location problems. A new framework and methodology for the planning of intermodal terminal location evaluation was also formulated. Finally, the problems of terminal location evaluation and optimisation of intermodal freight terminal operation were integrated into a single evaluation model.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 20672
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ferreira, Luis& Kozan, Erhan
Keywords: multi-agent system, agent-based, decision support system, facility, location, intermodal freight terminal, conflict resolution
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 26 May 2009 10:02
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:52

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