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Ohio State-DHL team aims for top operations research prize


An Ohio State University Department of Integrated Systems and Engineering collaboration with DHL Supply Chain has qualified to compete as one of six finalists for the 2023 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research and Management Science.

INFORMS is the largest association for the decision and data sciences, and the Edelman award is the most prestigious accolade in the practice of analytics and operations research.

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Associate Professor Ted Allen’s former PhD student Yibo Dang led the development of a new software system for DHL Supply Chain – The Transportation Network Optimizer – that supports bidding on projects, positioning resources, determining the fleet sizes and types, outsourcing and routing. DHL Supply Chain North America operates one of the world’s largest logistics networks delivering more than one billion packages annually for corporate customers, including critical vaccines and medicines.

Much of the work was published in Dang’s Ohio State dissertation. Allen contributed key ideas like combining routing and outsourcing algorithmically using an innovative type of search based on the symbiosis of two ant colonies. Dang received his PhD in 2020 and is now an applied scientist at Amazon.

Aiming to reduce the number of trucks and amount of fuel required, the software solves large-scale routing and is saving an estimated $98.6 million per year and half a megaton of CO2 emissions since implementation. The software represents multiple innovations relating to integer programming. It uses future demand information to determine which packages should be delivered by DHL, which packages should be outsourced to a third-party carrier, and how such deliveries should occur with minimum cost.

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“It has been a true pleasure to work in alignment with the forward-thinking leadership of DHL Supply Chain including President Jim Monkmeyer and Senior Directors Jon Cox, Jason Gillespie and Manjeet Singh,” said Allen. “Their coordination of technical resources like Yibo and I with a whole orchestra of professional supply chain solution designers and execution staff has been exceptional and masterful.”

The Ohio State-DHL Supply Chain team is competing against Huawei Cloud,, Inc., Lyft, Meituan and Walmart. The 2023 Edelman Award will be presented at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research in Aurora, Colorado, on April 16-18.

First awarded in 1972, the prize is named in honor of Franz Edelman, who founded the Operations Research division within RCA, one of the first corporations to embed operations research as a business imperative.

Recent winners of the Franz Edelman Award include Government of Chile in 2022, U.N. World Food Programme in 2021 and Intel in 2020. Since its inception, award finalists have contributed to a cumulative impact of more than $363 billion and countless other nonmonetary benefits.


Originally published on the College of Engineering website.

Category: Faculty