Models and algorithms to improve earthwork operations in road design using mixed integer linear programming
In road construction, earthwork operations account for about 25% of the construction costs. Existing linear programming models for earthwork optimization are designed to minimize the hauling costs and to balance the earth across the construction site. However, these models do not consider the removal of physical blocks that may influence the earthwork process. As such, current models may result in inaccurate estimates of optimal earthwork costs, leading to poor choices in road design. In this research, we extend the classical linear program model of earthwork operations to a mixed integer linear program model that accounts for blocks. We examine the economic impact of incorporating blocks via mixed integer linear programming, and find significant savings for most road designs in our test-set. However, the resulting model is considerably harder to solve than the original linear program. Based on structural observations, we introduce a set of algorithms that theoretically reduce the solving time of the model. We confirm this reduction in solve time with numerical experiments.
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