Phase 1. Configure and Run Network Optimization Experiment

To complete this tutorial, you must work with a scenario that contains at least the following:

In this phase of the tutorial we will complete the following steps after creating NO scenario:

To create a scenario to work with, you can either instantly download and import the My Supply Chain GFA Result 2 scenario, which was created from the results of the GFA experiment, or you can provide your own scenario data that you would like to optimize with the help of the Network Optimization experiment. We will use the GFA scenario, containing experiment results as the basis for our Network Optimization experiment tutorial.

Convert scenario from GFA type to NO type

  1. Right click the My Supply Chain GFA Result 2 scenario to open a pop-up menu.

  2. Click the Create Copy as NO option. You will be taken to the NO tab containing the just created copy.
    Note: The name of the scenario may seem quite long, you may rename it if you wish by right-clicking it, selecting Properties from the pop-up dialog box and specifying the desired name in the Scenario name field.

Let us have a closer look at the scenario's data. GFA executed rough calculation of DC locations. It did not consider roads, cities, peculiarities of geographical areas etc. We need to analyze the current locations and find the best locations considering infrastructure.

Since GFA does not take into account roads, cities, means of transportation etc., we should zoom in to see if the DCs are placed in the advantageous spots with easy access to highways. Depending on the remoteness of a DC from the required infrastructure we will either move it towards the nearest city/highway or specify a number of potentially interesting locations for it. We will find the best locations by running the Network Optimization experiment.

Let us now examine the locations offered by the GFA experiment. We shall start with the DC in the middle.


Check DC location

  1. Click the DC on the GIS map. A tooltip will appear providing information on the selected DC.

  2. Zoom in by scrolling your mouse wheel. Place mouse cursor over the GFA DC 3 to center the map while zooming in.
    You will see that it is located too far from the closest highway/city. We will have to find a better location for this DC.

Since we cannot tell where exactly to place this particular DC due to its initial location, we should define several potential locations, which would meet our requirements. These locations will be further used by the Network Optimization experiment, which will try to find the optimal location (or locations, depending on the set parameters) for this DC.

Let us consider Jackson and Vicksburg cities as potential GFA DC 3 locations.

Define potential locations
  1. Zoom in to Jackson city close enough to search for the potential location somewhere near an intersection involving Interstate 20.

    The area with numerous intersections seems prospective. We will place a DC here to further consider this location in the experiment.

  2. Click the  Create Warehouse icon in the GIS map toolbar and double-click somewhere within the area to place a DC.

  3. When done, click thePanning mode icon in the toolbar to exit the editing mode.
    Now let us navigate to the Vicksburg city to find alternative potential location there.

  1. Zoom in and place DC near the Iowa Avenue and Route 61 as shown on the screenshot below.

We have set two potential locations for the GFA DC 3 warehouse, now we must give them meaningful names that would reflect their locations. Let us name them Jackson DC and Vicksburg DC correspondingly.

Rename the DCs

  1. Navigate to the DCs and Factories table (it is currently open below the GIS map)The table contains five records, one for each DC (three DCs offered by the GFA experiment, plus two that we have just defined).

  2. Click the Site 1 field in the Name column to activate the editing mode. 

  3. Type in Jackson DC and press Enter to exit the editing mode. The name of the DC will be changed, its Location name will be automatically updated.

  4. In the same way rename the Site 2 DC to Vicksburg DC.

Now we will move on and check locations of the other two DCs. Let us continue with the DC in the western part of the United States.

Check DC location
  1. Click the leftmost DC on the GIS map. A tooltip will appear providing information about it.

  2. Place mouse cursor over the GFA DC 1 to center the map while zooming in. Scroll mouse wheel to zoom in. 

    You will see that it is located too far from the closest highway/city. We will have to find a better location for this DC.

As we can see this DC is not in the most popular place either. We will consider Carson City, Elko and West valley city (located in the suburb of the Salt Lake City) as potential GFA DC 1 locations.

Define potential locations

  1. Zoom in to Elko city close enough to search for the potential location somewhere near the railroad.

    The area shown on the screenshot below seems prospective. We will place a DC here to further consider this location in the experiment.

  2. Click the  Create Warehouse icon in the toolbar of the GIS map view and double-click somewhere within the area to place a DC.

  3. When done, click thePanning mode icon in the toolbar to exit the editing mode.

  4. Rename the created Site 1 DC to Elko DC in the DCs and Factories table below the GIS map.

    Now let us navigate to the Carson City to find alternative potential location there.

  1. Zoom in and place DC near the East 5th St as shown on the screenshot below.

  2. Rename the created Site 1 DC to Carson City DC in the DCs and Factories table.

    Now let us navigate to the West Valley City to find alternative potential location there.

  3. Zoom in and place DC as shown on the screenshot below.

  4. Rename the created DC to West Valley City DC in the DCs and Factories table.

We have set three potential locations for the GFA DC 1 warehouse and we may finally move on to the third DC proposed by the GFA experiment. It is located in the eastern part of the United States.

Check DC location

  1. Click the DC on the GIS map. A tooltip will appear providing information on the selected DC.

  2. Zoom in by scrolling your mouse wheel. Place mouse cursor over the GFA DC 2 to center the map while zooming in.

    You will see that GFA DC 2 is located near Jim Thorp, which is quite small, and Hazleton city to the North-West, which is the nearest large city. If we look closer at Hazleton, we will see that It is a good location with numerous PA routes, Interstate highway 81, and Hazleton Regional Airport. 

Taking into account that Hazleton is located in just 26 kilometers from the current DC location, we will simply move this DC towards the Hazleton's environs.

Adjust location of the DC

  1. Zoom into the Hazleton city area close enough to see its streets and potentially prospective locations somewhere near the highways. 

    There is a vast piece of land right next to the city with easy access to the intersection involving Interstate 81 and PA 924 route. 

  2. Zoom out, click GFA DC 2 and drag it to this area.

We have relocated GFA DC 2 and now we must give it a meaningful name that would reflect its location. Let us name it Hazleton DC.

At last we have completed setting up the potential DC locations. You may zoom out now to observe the whole picture.

If you click the Show Sourcing Paths button in the GIS map view toolbar, you will see the paths from each distribution center to each customer. The actual routes are used by default in ALX. 

Use actual routes instead of straight lines

  1. Click the  Show Sourcing Paths button in the GIS map view toolbar. The paths will be depicted as straight lines. Let ALX download the data. This may take some time depending on the internet connection speed and the number of routes. Once ALX applies the downloaded information to our map, we will be able to see the actual routes, which connect customers to each distribution center. The GIS map sourcing paths will change their shape in accordance with the available roads leading from the warehouses to the customers.

Now we can see the actual roads, which will be used in our supply chain to deliver the products. If needed, we can switch to GIS map view and zoom in the map to observe every route and adjust the location of a warehouse if needed. The route will be instantly recalculated according to the new warehouse location.

As you can see, the GIS map currently shows the total of 8 DCs. Here belong the three DCs that were taken from the Results 2 GFA results and the five DCs that we have just created while defining the potential locations. By default all these DCs are included in the Network Optimization experiment. If you navigate to the DC and Factories table, you will see the DCs and their types of inclusion.

Above the line you can see the DCs, which were initially present in this scenario. Below the line you can see all the DCs that we have just created.

Now we need to specify the inclusion type for each DC. We will assign the following inclusion types:

Change the inclusion type of a DC

  1. Move to the Inclusion Type column, which defines the status of the current facility.
  2. Select the cells of the GFA DC 1 and GFA DC 3 rows by Ctrl+clicking them.
  3. Press Spacebar to open a pop-up window with a drop-down list of inclusion types.
  4. Select Exclude and click OK.

    Note: Once you have marked the GFA DC 1 and GFA DC 3 as “Excluded, the table records will turn gray and the corresponding facilities will disappear from the GIS map.

  5. In the same way mark the distribution centers that we have added to our model (Jackson DC ... Elko DC) as “Consider”. You may select a number of successive cells by Shift+clicking the first and the last cells.

In the end your Inclusion Type column must look like this:


We have successfully defined alternative locations. Now, to make Network Optimization experiment choose the best DC locations among the defined ones, we will create a condition in the Assets Constraints table, specifying the final number of DCs that we want the experiment to find. Since DCs to choose from refer to two different locations with two independent groups of customers, we will have to first create two new groups of alternative locations the experiment will work with.

Create groups of alternative locations

  1. Navigate to the Groups table. You will see that it already contains a number of automatically created groups. Click the title of the Name column to have the groups sorted alphabetically in the ascending order.
    Judging from the names of the groups we can see that they were created as the result of the GFA experiment.

  2. Click Add above the table to create a new group. A new table record named Group 1 will be created.

  3. Click the Group 1 cell and type in GFA DC 1 alternatives to specify the name of the group.

We have created and renamed a new group. Now we need to define the content of the group. We know that this group will contain distribution centers. The DCs we need can be defined in the Sites column of this table.

Define DCs for the group
  1. Double-click the DCs row cell in the Sites column. A dialog box will open containing all the available DCs to choose from.

  2. Click the toggle buttons in the Included column referring to the Salt Lake DC, Carson city DC and Elko DC.

  3. Click OK to close the dialog box and apply the changes.

  4. In the same way create the GFA DC 3 alternatives group that will contain Jackson DC and Vicksburg DC

Now we can proceed to creating a condition that will be used by the Network Optimization experiment.

Create condition optimizing DC locations

  1. Navigate to the Assets Constraints table and click Add to create a new table record.
  2. Click the Group cell to open a drop-down list of available groups and select the GFA DC 1 alternatives group. In such a way we tell the experiment to choose among the DCs of this group.
  3. Specify the required number of DCs that the experiment must choose:
  4. In the same way create the second record for the GFA DC 3 alternatives group.
    Your Assets Constraints table should look like this.

We have set the alternative DC locations and defined conditions for the Network Optimization experiment to work with. 

Please note that It is obligatory to have a supplier to run the NO experiment. We currently have no supplier. Let us place it in the port of Los Angeles, which also happens to be the busiest US port.

Add a PS4 Supplier

  1. Click the GIS map to activate it and zoom in to the Port of Los Angeles, located right next to the Long Beach.

  2. Click the  Create supplier icon in the toolbar menu of the GIS map and double-click the port area to place the supplier.

  3. When done, click the  Panning mode icon

We have added Sony PS4 supplier, which will provide our DCs with the consoles and now we need to configure it within our supply chain.

Configure supplier

  1. Navigate to the Suppliers table below the GIS map and set meaningful name for it (Port of LA)

  2. Navigate to the Product Flows table and create a new flow of products from the supplier to the DCs:

When done, the Product Flows table should look like this:

As you remember we have previously created two DC groups containing alternative DC locations, which must be considered by the NO experiment. We need to set those groups as product sources.

Configure product sources

  1. Double-click GFA DC 3 and select GFA DC 3 alternatives from the drop-down list of available sources.
  2. Double-click GFA DC 1 and select GFA DC 1 alternatives from the drop-down list of available sources.

The last thing to do before running the experiment is to modify the parameters of the Cost Calculation policy, which can be found in the Paths table. The changes will affect the product measurement unit type (it must correspond to the one specified in the Unit column of the Products table) and the cost of transportation the specified measurement unit type.

Modify Cost Calculation policy
  1. Navigate to the Paths table and double-click the cell of the Cost Calculation Parameters column.
    A dialog box will open allowing you to modify the policy parameters.

  2. Click the Amount unit drop-down list and select pcs.
  3. Now click the Cost per unit field and type in 0.002, which is the cost of transportation one PS4 unit in a standard 20ft truck.
That's it. We are ready to run Network Optimization. Let us create the experiment and examine the results.

Set up and run Network Optimization experiment

  1. Navigate to the Experiments section and click NO experiment. 

    You will be taken to the NO experiment's view with its default settings. We will leave them as they are, since we have already set all the currently required parameters in the tables of this scenario.

  1. Click  Run.

    You will see that initially anyLogistix is downloading the routes for all the combinations of customers and distribution centers. Once all the routes are cached, the experiment will be executed.  

Once the experiment is completed, the Result 1 sub-item will be created in the NO experiment tree. You will be instantly taken to it.

The result of the experiment will be available in the Optimization results tab below the experiment's view in the form of a table which lists all the possible options. All other tabs below contain additional information on the received results  in the form of statistics (each tab refers to a certain type of statistics).
Note: You can sort or filter the results table just like any other ALX table.

The top option is the best one found during the optimization in terms of transportation costs (specified in the Paths table). 

The results of the experiment can be visually observed on the GIS map. We will also visualize routes for all sites.

  1. Click the top result in the table of the Optimization results tab to have it displayed on the GIS map. 
  2. Click the Show Sourcing Paths button in the GIS map view toolbar to see the paths.

We have received the basic Network Optimization results with real routes and exact DC locations

Now we can move on to specify the price of the product, cost of opening a warehouse and the cost of processing the outgoing shipments.

  Network Optimization TutorialPhase 2. Specify expenses and compare results