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MIT FreightLab

Driving Innovation within the Transportation Industry

What is the MIT FreightLab?

The MIT FreightLab mission is to drive innovation into the freight transportation industry in order to reduce cost, minimize risk, and increase the level of service. Freight transportation is subject to highly volatile demand and costs that are typically outside of a firm’s ability to control or even influence. This is compounded by a dominant design in terms of how freight is historically procured and managed. FreightLab research focuses on working with companies to develop and implement real-world solutions to these challenges.

FreightLab objectives are to develop innovations in freight transportation planning and operations and drive them into practice. Recently, we have developed methods for forecasting both short term spot-market rates and longer-term contract rates. We are exploring alternative contract forms between shippers and carriers that increase the level of trust in the relationship and yield better results for both parties. Working with a wide range of shippers, carriers, and third-party providers, the freight lab team develops and delivers better ways to design, procure, and manage large-scale freight transportation systems.

Our Research

Modeling Effects of Natural Disasters on The US Truckload Market

Modeling Effects of Natural Disasters on The US Truckload Market

We analyze shipment data for assessing the impact of natural disasters on freight movement. Our focus is on North-Atlantic hurricanes that make landfall in the contiguous USA. Quantifying the impact of natural disasters on the truckload industry can help shippers know what costs to expect, what routes to avoid, how to procure and position relief goods.

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The Driver Initiative

The Driver Initiative

The Driver Initiative looks to uncover new insights and identify specific opportunities to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of life of American over-the-road truck drivers through an analysis of individual driver actions and behavior using ELD and other related data

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Forecasting Long Haul Truckload Spot Market Rates

Forecasting Long Haul Truckload Spot Market Rates

The project aims at predicting long haul truckload spot market rates in continental USA for the near future. Accurate forecasting of transportation costs is a key step in logistical planning. It helps buyers and sellers
of transportation services make better decisions at all stages of a supply chain.

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Freight Rate Impacts & Influences

Freight Rate Impacts & Influences

This continuing project examines how truckload transportation rates are impacted by different policies, procedures, and network characteristics. Various econometric techniques were employed to quantify these impacts. Additionally, the projects uncovered actions that both shippers and carriers can take to reduce overall transportation cost.

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Future Freight Flows

Future Freight Flows

The future rarely moves in predictable, incremental ways. Often seemingly small changes in technology, demographics, regulations, economics, or a myriad of other factors have dramatic and unintended impacts on how companies source, manufacture, distribute and operate in general. These non-linear impacts are very difficult to predict using traditional forecasting methods and techniques since they, by definition, do not follow any historical patterns.

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Global Ocean Transportation Reliability Initiative

Global Ocean Transportation Reliability Initiative

The design, procurement, and management of a global ocean transportation (GOT) network is a challenging task. By definition, the network spans multiple continents, involves a variety of business units, and can impact and influence operations from procurement to final assembly. Additionally, the ocean carrier industry has particular pressures in terms of market structure, levels of competitiveness, and transparency (or lack thereof) of pricing and service levels. While the ocean carrier market appears to be global on the surface, in reality most of its activities are directed at supporting specific trade lanes.

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Freight Network Optimization (FNOT)

Freight Network Optimization (FNOT)

This project explored the use of a variety of different transportation relationships between shippers and carriers to improve overall performance. Specifically, working with several different retailers and manufacturers, developed an approach for determining the optimal assignment of for-hire and private fleet assets across a freight transportation network while considering the uncertainty of demand for truckloads.

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Optimization Based Transportation Procurement

Optimization Based Transportation Procurement

This research initiative addresses how shippers (buyers) should procure transportation services from truckload (TL) motor carriers (suppliers). TL carriers operate over irregular routes moving directly from origin to destination without any intermediate stops. A significant portion of a TL carrier’s costs is due to the repositioning of empty vehicles (deadheading) from the destination of one load to the origin of the follow-on load.

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Our Partners & Sponsors

Our Team

Dr. Chris Caplice

Dr. Chris Caplice

Co-Director

Dr. David Correll

Dr. David Correll

Co-Director

Dr. Francisco Jauffred

Dr. Francisco Jauffred

Research Scientist

Angi Acocella

Angi Acocella

Research Assistant

Shraddha Rana

Shraddha Rana

Research Assistant

Updates from the Lab

Future Freight Flows: Scenario Planning Toolkit

Future Freight Flows: Scenario Planning Toolkit

The Scenario Planning Toolkit is designed to help transportation planners in any organization design, plan, and run a Scenario Planning Workshop. There are two types of material contained here: Guidebooks and Workshop Collateral.

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Forecasting Freight Transportation Rates

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center welcomed Chris Caplice, PhD, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL), as the second speaker in the Transportation in the Age of Artificial...

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Get In Touch

Interested in collaborating with us? Do you have a research idea?

Send us a note at freightlab@mit.edu to set up a time to discuss your ideas, questions, and transportation goals.