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From the Idea of Algorithmic Transport Planning to the s2 Start-Up

During our mathematics studies at TU Graz, we were already successfully applying our skills in mathematical optimization and software development to application projects. (Image source: s2 data)

In this blog post, you can find out how TU Graz graduates and company founders Stefan Kremsner and Stefan Lendl use flexible algorithms to plan more efficient transport, reduce empty runs and cut CO₂ emissions.

At "s2 data & algorithms" we work every day to optimize transport networks. We are the two TU Graz mathematics graduates Stefan Kremsner and Stefan Lendl. In 2020, we founded our start-up with the idea of creating economic and ecological added value through efficient planning. In the meantime, we and our team support numerous automotive customers by helping them to better utilize trucks and sea freighters in tactical and operational planning on a daily basis. Our recent start-up not only delivers improved transport plans using mathematical optimization algorithms, but also replaces repetitive tasks for dispatchers. We are up to the challenges of digitalization in the transport network with our flexible software and are working on the sustainable mobility of the future. But how did it all come about?

From pilot project in the mathematics programme to start-up

During our mathematics studies at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), we were already successfully applying our skills in mathematical optimization and software development to application projects. This is also how our first pilot project concerning a Daimler plant in Hungary came about. While we were still studying for our doctorates, we were invited to the plant by the managing director of a supplier to analyse the potential for optimization in the material planning department there. We quickly developed a first prototype that greatly facilitated manual planning and significantly increased transport utilization.

Information on the degree programme Mathematics at TU Graz can be found on the TU Graz website. In the bachelor's degree programme Mathematics students already specialise in a subject of their choice.

In the meantime, the "s2 data & algorithms" start-up has emerged, based on the Master-Scheduler software solution. We expanded the first prototype with innovative algorithms and planning functions, such as detailed empties and milk run control. This includes making runs to the various supplier locations as well as the plant and picking up the empty containers on the way back. The benefits in terms of reduced emissions and savings potential through the use of our software eventually won over international companies such as Magna, Yanfeng, Duvenbeck and SMP.

Know-how for us as start-up founders

Along the way, we benefited from the sound mathematics education at TU Graz as well as from the offers of the start-up incubator Science Park Graz (SPG) at TU Graz.

Science Park Graz (SPG) is a business incubator that is open to all academics at the Graz universities, regardless of their field of study. The eight-week SPG Academy preparation course trains applicants in topics such as business plan, pitch and intellectual property rights protection and prepares them for the presentation in front of the selection panel. After successful incubation, SPG members become part of a network of start-ups that support each other.

At SPG, we had two office spaces at our disposal, and we benefited not only from the exciting courses, but above all from our SPG innovation consultants, who were always on hand to give us advice.
The business tips provided by the SPG Academy and the coaches and mentors were a key support in the many difficult decisions that founders have to make when establishing a start-up. For us as pure technicians, the SPG mentoring programme was particularly valuable. Through our academic mentor Eranda Dragoti-Cela at the Institute of Discrete Mathematics, we benefited at the same time from the intensive scientific exchange with TU Graz and work in the joint research projects. The input of our mentor Gregor Egerer was also very valuable. As a logistics expert, he provided essential content from the field to make the MasterScheduler the valued product for the industry that it is today.

MasterScheduler: our innovative software solution

All the previous steps – the mathematics studies, the pilot project, everything we learned at Science Park Graz – led up to today’s MasterScheduler – which is an intuitive software solution. The software uses mathematical algorithms to automate and optimize the complex planning tasks in transport logistics, including the integration of warehouse and production control. In the cloud-based software-as-a-service solution, the decisions of the algorithm are comprehensible for planners, and delivery plans including HGV loading can be viewed in 3D. Due to the resulting cost and Carbon dioxide savings of more than 20 per cent, we have already won important industry prizes such as the AKJ elogistics Award and the Constantinus Award together with our customer Yanfeng. What sets us apart from previous solutions on the market is that we take into account route and cargo space optimization as a whole, in full detail, and can easily adapt them to customer processes.

The intuitive software solution MasterScheduler automates and optimizes complex planning tasks in transport logistics. (Image source: s2 data)

Qualified employees as key to success

Our philosophy is to bring cutting-edge research in applied mathematics coupled with state-of-the-art decision support software to businesses to solve operational problems. Only through a best trained team is it possible to live this philosophy. Most experts working at "s2 data & algorithms" were trained in mathematics, software development, physics and business management at TU Graz or the University of Graz.
Our mathematical optimization algorithms are being constantly developed through active research. We are currently developing algorithms for robust transport optimization in an Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) project with Eranda Dragoti-Cela and Bettina Klinz from the Institute of Discrete Mathematics at TU Graz. The aim of the new procedures is to create efficient transport plans even in the face of uncertainties in the supply chain, such as fluctuating demand or availability problems with heavy goods vehicle drivers.

At "s2 data & algorithms" we are open to giving motivated people from the fields of mathematics, computer science and software development the opportunity to jointly implement our vision of flexible, efficient and, above all, ecological transport planning.

Growing challenges – growing team

We see MasterScheduler as the optimal solution for a sustainable future of logistics. The challenges are constantly growing – as is the "s2 data & algorithms" team. In the foreseeable future, other sectors such as retail, the food industry, the construction industry, freight forwarders and service providers will also benefit from solutions for the operational and tactical planning of their network. The first pilot projects are already under way. At "s2 data & algorithms" we are open to giving motivated people from the fields of mathematics, computer science and software development the opportunity to jointly implement our vision of flexible, efficient and, above all, ecological transport planning.

Stefan Kremsner and Stefan Lendl are graduates of the mathematics degree programme at TU Graz and founders of the start-up s2 data & algorithms. During their studies, they successfully applied their skills in mathematical optimization and software development to application projects time and again.
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