Computer simulations are increasingly powerful and realistic models for complex real-world scenarios, and our project applies this technology to model a coal transportation case study. Given a baseline scenario of fourteen carriers transporting coal from three U.S. locations to four international locations, we optimize operations in terms of product flow, time required for shipments, and total operation costs. Implementing the case study's factors into modular code, we introduce several potential changes to current operations and develop specific scenarios. Further, in analyzing these scenarios we test for robustness and sensitivity, by changing values such as demand and bad weather occurrences, and noting how well the model responds. We ultimately gain a better intuition of the factors at play, identify optimizations, and develop a more efficient configuration. Also, we note several areas of potential improvement and suggest several directions for future work. Finally, taking advantage of modern graphical software, we present the optimized scenario in an animated interface, including a 3D view of the model and real-time data charts. While delving into complex data to reach the desired results, our model is accessible to a broad audience and presents an intriguing glimpse into the future of computational modeling.
Finzel, Raymond; Goodrich, Timothy; and Roberts, Graeme, "Simulation Modeling and Analysis of Coal Shipping Operations" (2013). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 198.