Ann Melissa Campbell, University of Iowa – Making Delivery Driver Parking More Efficient

Delivery drivers don’t have it easy when it comes to parking, so how can we improve this?

Ann Melissa Campbell, Clement T. and Sylvia H. Hanson Family Chair in Manufacturing productivity and professor of business analytics at the University of Iowa, looks into it.

Ann Melissa Campbell’s research focuses on freight transportation, especially on problems related to new and emerging business models, as well as the logistics of disaster preparation and relief. She is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award and serves as an Area Editor for Transportation Science. As department chair, she led the efforts of the Tippie College of Business’ Department of Business Analytics to win the 2021 INFORMS UPS George D. Smith Prize for excellence in analytics education. Since 2022, she has chaired the annual FutureBAProf workshop focused on improving diversity in business analytics academic positions.

Making Delivery Driver Parking More Efficient

Anyone who’s ever spent time in a big city has found themselves stuck in traffic, surrounded by delivery vehicles. How can we get the products we order delivered to us on-time with fewer delivery trucks on the road and the traffic they cause?

This is the question we considered in our latest study. 

Delivery companies develop sophisticated algorithms to decide what customers should be visited by which drivers, and the order that delivery drivers should visit these customers.  These algorithms, however, don’t consider parking. 

It can be useful, for example, to recommend a driver park in a certain area and visit a prescribed set of customers on foot from that parking spot.  Our algorithm does just this – it recommends parking spots for drivers, telling them where to park and which customers to visit on foot from that parking spot. 

We found that this strategic consideration of parking becomes particularly important in areas where it takes a long time to park. This is the case in most urban environments, where the current average time to park is 9 minutes. 

In these situations, the answer is for the driver to park fewer times and walk more.  If the parking time is high enough, the solutions can suggest that driver deliver a set of packages from a parking spot and return to that parking spot to get more packages and walk again rather than drive. 

We tested our idea using data from Chicago. We calculated delivery time could be cut by about 50 percent if companies designed routes that strategically consider parking, which means drivers can make twice as many deliveries during a day. 

If drivers can make twice as many deliveries, we need only half the number of trucks on the road and traffic can be reduced so we can get to where we want to go more quickly.