Network Routing
Network Routing

Where? Which path?

Some of the most sophisticated decision making involves the consideration and management of movement through networks.

At Princeton Consultants, we consider networks as a series of paths through four dimensions: Space, Time, Activities and Resources (S.T.A.R.).

  • For the service network company, optimization allowed executive management to analyze various what-if scenarios around variations in coverage areas (Space), schedules and service guarantees (Time), different configurations of sorting hubs and spokes (Activities), and different staffing and outsource levels (Resources). 
  • For the freight railroad, customer freight routing decisions include identifying the closest terminals (Space), drive time, gate cutoffs and train schedules (Time), determining which vendors can provide the required services for each load (Activities) and equipment capacity (Resources).  Key to the optimization is to reduce overall customer costs, while maximizing service reliability and train utilization.
  • For the asset management company, rail cars are tracked at sensor stations across the continent (Space), ETA's are forecast-based (Time), railroad-specific actions such as switching and blocking are modeled (Activities), and the supply/demand needs of each railroad is optimized (Resources).
  • For the airline, planes and crew are assigned to minimize repositioning air miles (Space), minimize customer waiting and equipment idling (Time), respecting regulatory, union, and other constraints (Activities), and insuring that the most appropriate plane and crew is assigned to each task (Resources).
  • For the regional agribusiness, choosing the closest processing mill (Space) and reducing the time crops are waiting to be processed (Time) is balanced with the relative efficiency of different choices crews and mills (Activities), and the availability choices in engines and rail cars (Resources).
  • For the 2020 U.S. Census, design changes include optimized routing. The new capabilities also allow quality to be infused into the process through alerts to supervisors when there is an anomaly in an enumerator’s performance (e.g., the enumerator reports having driven 100 miles in a day, but the systems show that the route could have been driven in 10 miles). In total, these design changes have the potential to save the Census Bureau an estimated $2.5 billion.