Computer Models for Solving Operational Problems in the Maritime Industry
International business and trade has increased at an unprecedented pace during the last decade, and this trend is expected to continue in the future. Goods and services worth two trillion dollars cross national borders every day. Advancement in computer technology and the Internet has contributed to this unparalleled increase. The maritime industry/business is an essential and major driver of international trade/business. Ships transport a high proportion of international cargo with operational costs in trillions of dollars annually. Researchers have developed algorithms to solve a variety of problems pertaining to manufacturing and service industries. Many of those algorithms can be applied to solve problems of the maritime industry and to make its operations more efficient and effective. Maritime problems are generally very complex and practitioners may think that such complex problems are too difficult to solve by applying algorithms. Nevertheless, complex operations can be broken down to some manageable projects and activities. Mathematical models are expressions of real-world scenarios and transformation of these models into functions that computers can understand. Modern computers provide us with solutions to those operational problems. Mathematical models have been used in real life for large corporations, airliners, manufacturing and service companies, in distribution functions, and scheduling of activities. We present and describe several models for the maritime industry. The models help us to make maritime operations more cost effective and manage those operations more efficiently and effectively. Past experience has shown that employing management science techniques using mathematical models has helped companies to reduce their costs at least five to ten percent annually. For example, American airliners save several million dollars annually by using mathematical models to schedule aircraft crews.