Olga Raskina

I am an Operations Research principal at Con-way Freight. I have been with the company since August 2009, working on analytical models to support its strategic directions. Prior to Con-way I worked at the software company Emptoris, where I held the Lead scientist position, leading the research efforts for all company’s products. I was responsible for research and production development of patented and patent-pending large-scale integer and nonlinear algorithms for supply chains and combinatorial auctions, data cleansing and classification techniques for high volume spend management, and natural language technology for intelligent semantic analysis of legal documents.

I am an active member of Informs, currently serving on the Informs Chapters Committee and Subdivisions Council. I have served as the VP of Informs Boston for the last three years and am currently leading the Michigan chapter. I received her PhD in Operations Research from the IEOR department of Columbia University in 2003.

Con-way Freight is one of the largest LTL carriers in North America. Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is the transportation of relatively small freight, an LTL company generally mixes freight from several customers in each trailer and "carpools" the freight to a common destination. LTL carriers collect freight from various shippers and consolidate that freight onto trailers for linehaul to the delivering terminal or to a hub terminal where the freight will be further sorted and consolidated for additional linehauls. An LTL shipment may be handled only once while in transit, or it may be handled multiple times before final delivery is accomplished. The main advantage to using an LTL carrier is that a shipment may be transported for a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire truck and trailer for an exclusive shipment. Con-way Freight has more than 365 operating locations, has over 18,000 employees, and over 32000 tractors and trailers.

There are many OR-related problems in the LTL world. We solve a large-scale network design and optimization problem to decide which hubs each shipment and each truck goes through so that we minimize the miles it travels and the miles our trucks travel empty. In addition we have to consider daily workforce requirements, shift schedules at every terminal, working regulations for the drivers and uncertainty in daily demand. With over 300 terminals in our network and almost complete set of point-to-point demands this becomes a very challenging OR problem.

There are plenty of other operations-related problems. We need to decide how to combine shipments in a trailer to optimize trailer utilization and also the number of time a shipment is moved from trailer to trailer. You can think of it as minimizing the number of "connections" each shipment makes before it reaches its final destination. We solve a vehicle routing type problems to create pick-up and delivery schedules for our trucks.

In addition to operations the OR team works with many other function within Con-way. We have built several models for the sales organization that help assign sales territories and create sales goals for the account executives to optimize the company’s profit. We work with the marketing group to identify customers who are likely to be unhappy with the services and develop countermeasures before they defect. We work with the finance department on financial forecasts and with the pricing department do develop differential pricing schemas for different types of customers.