Effekt will make distribution of media products more efficient through a user friendly and flexible web solution for automated route planning. The solution is based on advances in geographical information technology and route optimization methods. The solution will produce more efficient and flexible routes that will adapt to variations in volume. Route planning and revision will require substantially less time and resources than today. Hence, routes will be updated dynamically. The solution may be tailored to different distribution companies and appear as a branch standard.

In the distribution of media products, route planning, route revision and distribution management are highly complex and resource consuming tasks. Route plans may cover tens of thousands of delivery points that cover all households in a given area. Plans must be coordinated with processes for printing, packing, and first tier distribution from the print shops.

Efficiency, flexibility, timeliness and delivery quality are to a large degree determined by the route planning and revision processes. Today, these processes are by and large performed manually, at best supported by simplistic tools. To illustrate: full revision of the Oslo distribution routes for the largest Norwegian subscription newspaper Aftenposten may take several years, involve many employees, and cost millions of kroner. This is why revision is not done as often as it should. Low efficiency in the planning function is one reason for stiffness and lack of dynamics.

The main idea in Effekt is to enhance state-of-the-art web based distribution management tools with novel, highly effective and user friendly functions for optimized, automated route planning. There will be coordination with plans for printing, packing, and first tier distribution. Hence, the Distribution Innovation distribution management solution will appear as cutting edge technology. Success is highly dependent on the development of excellent user interfaces and work processes. Flexibility and robustness are built in through functionality for customization, generic models for transportation and service times, functions for shared initiative planning and manual revision, as well as functions for modifying and enhancing GIS electronic road and address data.

In Effekt, we shall develop at least 4 prototype versions that will be the basis for industrialization, exploitation by end users, and commercial dissemination through tool vendors. We expect substantial savings through more efficient and flexible distribution routes, and drastically lower lead time and resource consumption in route construction and route revision.

The industrial end users in effect consist of four distribution companies. There are two tool vendors: a distribution management software company and a GIS vendor. In addition, the Effect consortium comprises two well reputed research groups in transportation optimization, one from Finland and one from Norway.

Published November 11, 2005

Effekt started May 1 2008 and will run until May 1 2011. The total budget is at about 18.5 MNOK. The project is partly funded by the Research Council of Norway under the Smartrans Programme, project number 187293.