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Towards a Model for Dynamic Formation and Operation of Virtual Organizations for Transportation

Escuela de Ingeniería Comercial, Universidad de Valparaíso
Pasaje La Paz 1301, Viña del Mar, Chile

Escuela de Ingeniería Comercial, Universidad de Valparaíso
Pasaje La Paz 1301, Viña del Mar, Chile

Escuela de Ingeniería Informática, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
Av. Brasil 2241, Valparaíso, Chile

Makarena DONOSO
Escuela de Ingeniería Informática, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
Av. Brasil 2241, Valparaíso, Chile

Abstract: This work presents an approach in the establishment of a model for dynamic formation and operation of virtual organizations, devoted to the domain of urban transport of people, particularly in the demand-responsive transportation domain. This model adds flexibility in integrating new transportation operators, based on new business opportunities that can be observed during the operation of the transport service. Also, this approach provides mechanisms to assist in maintaining the required minimum levels of quality. A general schema based on Agent Technology that supports the proposed dynamic model is included.

Keywords: Virtual Enterprise, Demand-Responsive Transportation Systems, Agents, Flexibility.

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Daniel CABRERA-PANIAGUA, Galo HERRERA, Claudio CUBILLOS, Makarena DONOSO, Towards a Model for Dynamic Formation and Operation of Virtual Organizations for Transportation, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 20 (3), pp. 255-264, 2011.

1. Introduction

The current competitive market conditions make companies act efficiently and effectively to adequately satisfy their customers’ needs, while complying with the legislation in this field of action. Among the alternatives that companies have to improve their competitiveness are quality certified processes, innovative marketing strategies, management systems, customer relations, among other initiatives. In this sense, one of the complementary ways companies have to overcome barriers to entry and / or survive in highly competitive markets is the formation of strategic alliances. These alliances allow the elaboration of joined-action plans based on the definition of common objectives for the participant organizations of the alliance. Thus, each participating organization focuses its efforts in the optimization of individual capacities and the maximization of its benefits, through a mutual collaboration with another organizations and the externalization of processes which have no direct relation to its particular line of business. Precisely in this ambit takes force the concept of virtual enterprise, which informally corresponds to a cooperation modality between enterprises, based on collaboration agreements among legally independent organizations, which while considering commons objectives, share resources, knowledge, infrastructure, among others. All this is supported by information technologies. Important aspects to consider in a virtual enterprise context are for example, to clearly define the alliance goals to achieve over time, because this allows selecting later the participant organizations within the alliance.

Furthermore, the time and conditions of staying inside the alliance is another crucial aspect, because in an essential sense, the cooperation is supported on a common understanding of business, plus the trust and the mutual responsibility in the achievement of the alliance success. A virtual enterprise is a temporal alliance of enterprises [2]. For this, the temporal continuity of this alliance is a very important aspect.

In another sense, in some countries of Europe, North America and Asia there have been carried out during the last thirty years various projects and studies devoted to optimize the use of resources and increase the quality of service in the passenger transportation domain [1][3][4][5][7]. The passenger transportation domain is a very important aspect in countries development, because this arises as consequence of the daily activities that people perform in diverse areas (production, education, recreational activities, among others), that is called System of Activities [6]. One specialized area in this context corresponds to the Demand-Responsive Transportation [7] that in simple terms seeks to adapt the available offer of transportation service to the level of observed demand, considering the particular objectives of the transportation service provider, and users of the transportation system. This work presents a model of dynamic formation of virtual organizations devoted to the passenger transportation domain.

This model considers the evaluation of the permanence of a transportation operator inside the transportation virtual enterprise, as well as the dynamic incorporation of new transportation operators, depending on the level of estimated transactions, operating conditions, availability of transportation operators, among other conditions. This model is mapped to a general schema based on Agent Technology.


An agent will be understood according to what described by Weiss [19]: “An agent is a computer system that is situated in some environment, and that is capable of autonomous action in this environment in order to meet its design objectives”. In this sense, the agent technology allows to add autonomy, delegation, cooperation and competition properties to IT solutions. Furthermore, it can provide distributed negotiation architectures for diverse domains such as transportation [10] and supply chain planning [22] among others.

The novelty of our work relies on: 1) the conceptualization of a flexible model of virtual organization, 2) the application of dynamism and control in the life-cycle of a virtual transportation enterprise as study case, and 3) the application of agent technology as first approach to implement a simulation software.


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