INFORMS News: Swedish team wins Wagner Prize for unique truck-routing solution

Allen Butler (middle), president of Wagner & Associates and chair of the Wagner Prize Committee, congratulates Mikael Rönnqvist (left) and Gunnar Svenson (right).

Every day millions of people rely on GPS to navigate to and from locations around the world. But what happens if you must frequently travel through an area that is accessed primarily by private roads, or you drive a vehicle that cannot safely navigate on certain routes? For their work in identifying a solution to this problem, Mikael Rönnqvist of the Université Laval, Canada; Gert Andersson, Gunnar Svenson and Patrik Flisberg of the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden; and Lars-Erik Jönsson of the SDC, Sundsvall, Sweden, were presented the 2016 Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice by INFORMS.

The prize, first announced at the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting, was formally presented as part of this year’s Edelman Gala in Las Vegas. Allen Butler, president of Wagner & Associates and chair of the award committee, made the presentation.

The prize-winning paper, “Calibrated Route Finder – Social, Safe, Environmental and Cost-Effective Truck Routing,” was recognized not only for its success in real-world application, but for a strong mathematical foundation that was clearly and concisely communicated in both the writing and presentation.

The research was based on the need for drivers of heavy trucks, particularly those working in the forestry industry, to have a route finder that goes beyond the typical GPS tool parameters of shortest and/or fastest route. In Sweden, where nearly two-thirds of the roads are private, a percentage that is even higher than in forested areas, GPS tools are limited by the lack of publicly available data for these private roads. As a result, GPS tools may suggest routes that are ill-suited for trucks, leading to high fuel consumption, long driving hours and driving on dangerous roads, or the GPS tool may be unable to find any route at all.

The researchers used O.R. methodologies to create a calibrated route finder that collects and analyzes a broader range of data to better identify optimal driving routes for drivers of heavy trucks in Sweden.

The other finalists for the 2016 award included:

  • “Vungle Inc. Improves Monetization Using Data Analytics” by Ioannis Fragkos, Erasmus University, Netherlands; Bert De Reyck, University College London; Yael S. Grushka-Cockayne, Casey Lichtendahl, University of Virginia; Hammond Guerin, Vungle Inc.
  • “Data-Driven Optimization For Multi-disciplinary Staffing in Mayo Clinic Improves Patient Experience” by Mustafa Sir, David Nestler, Thomas Hellmich, Devashish Das, Michael J. Laughlin, Michon Dohlman, Kalyan Pasupathy, Mayo Clinic
  • “Optimizing New Vehicle Inventory at General Motors” by Robert Inman, Michael Frick, Thomas Hitchman, Robert Muiter, Jonathan Owen, Gerald Takasaki, General Motors
  • “Implementation of the Genetic Gain Performance Metric Accelerates Agricultural Productivity” by Joseph Byrum, Craig Davis, Greg Doonan, Tracy Doubler, Syngenta; Bill Beavis, Iowa State University; Von Kaster, Sam Parry, Ronald Mowers, Arizona State University
  • “IBM Cognitive Technology Helps Aqualia Reduce Costs and Save Resources in Wastewater Treatment” by Alexander Zadorojniy, Segev Wasserkrug, Sergey Zeltyn, Vladimir Lipets, IBM Research, Haifa

Sponsored by the INFORMS Section on Practice, the Wagner Prize emphasizes the quality and coherence of the analysis used in practice. Dr. Daniel H. Wagner strove for strong mathematics applied to practical problems, supported by clear and intelligible writing. The Wagner Prize recognizes those principles by emphasizing good writing, strong analytical content and verifiable practice successes. Past awardees include practitioners and researchers from CDC, Ford, U.S. Coast Guard, Intel, IBM T. J. Watson Research, Schneider National, Boston University, University of Florida and others.