An app for better vehicle scheduling

I used to lecture a little about vehicle routing and scheduling.  One of the regular problems that came into the discussion of the reality of the subject - as opposed to the theory and mathematics - was that of vehicles returning empty.  A lorry would take a load from A to B and then have to return from B to A empty.  As a class, we would discuss ways that the haulier could avoid such empty returns - and as a mathematical exercise we would consider the availability of loads at C1, C2 and C3 (close to B or on the route from B to A) to be taken to near A.  Given the appropriate parameters of cost of the lorry per unit distance, when empty and loaded, the cost of loading and unloading, the cost of extra time on the road, and so on, it was a straightforward calculation to decide whether any of those loads was worth taking. 

Now I learn that a start-up company, Quicargo, has devised an app to help with this.  A customer needs a haulier, and broadcasts the specification.  Hauliers with the app can make a quote for taking the load, rather like the apps used for finding a taxi in many cities.  There are differences; some hauliers will not want to take loads on some routes, and other hauliers are contracted to a limited number of clients.  We will see what happens.


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