POSTECH LabCumentary Byung-In Kim (Industrial and Management Engineering)
Byung-In Kim (Industrial and Management Engineering)
Today’s consumers would normally expect that if they order a product, they will get this delivered to their house in a single day. For this kind of convenience, we can tip our hats entirely to the optimization of a highly complex process: a seller ships a product and a delivery truck transports it to the subterminal; it is then transferred onto a larger truck and carried to the hub terminal; the product is transported again to the destination subterminal where delivery parcels are sorted out and loaded onto delivery trucks that take them to their final destinations. Even with so many moving parts, it is easy to surmise that the overall success of a delivery service is largely dependent on the most efficient hub and sub terminal layouts, along with the shortest delivery truck routes.
A single delivery company processes up to five million deliveries a day, following the same precise process described above. This is one of the primary research topics that the Logistics Laboratory, led by Professor Byung-In Kim at the Department of Industrial and Management Engineering, POSTECH, probes into in the operational optimization area. The Lab studies the flow of goods to fulfill the ultimate purpose of logistics: to transport a particular item to its target destination as quickly and affordably as possible – all while utilizing the most optimal locations and transporting the most optimal quantity of goods possible. The scope of such optimization is not confined to goods – it extends to virtually anything from people and cars;p to any item that is movable.
The Logistics Lab is engaged in more than 40 industry-academic research undertakings to help businesses resolve their most pressing challenges. For instance, researchers at the Lab analyze the layout of hydrogen charging stations and their nationwide supply chain, while coordinating signals to optimize traffic flow at intersections. They also observe the pattern of autonomously driven unmanned vehicles used at plants, and research strategies adopted by hospitals to arrange operating room schedules to provide patients with optimized services.
Recently, the Lab engineered a practical system readily applicable to real-life situations and openly shared this with the general public: the intersection traffic light optimization software SITE developed by the Lab was made available on its website free-of-charge. Professor Kim noted, “You can pick any of the nine traffic light patterns at any given intersection and input the traffic volume, and the SITE stimulation will automatically find the most optimal signal timing”. He went on to say, “The optimal signal timing identified as such could reduce intersection passing times from 90 seconds down to 80”.
The achievements in conducting research to meet the present needs of varied industries manifest themselves in the awards the Logistics Lab has earned over the years. The Lab was honored with the Franz Edelman Award from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), which recognizes the specific technologies that achieved optimization in actual industrial settings. The Lab was also the recipient of the Grand Prize of the 1st and 2nd Industry-Academic Collaboration Competitions hosted by the Korea Institute of Industrial Engineers. With researchers committed to applying the algorithms of their creation to the real world to generate tangible outcomes, the Logistics Lab carries on with its work for the betterment of the world through optimization.
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