Combining parcels to increase load factor in biomass transport model

Discussion created by thomazz on Dec 13, 2011
Latest reply on Dec 19, 2011 by colinmurray
I am currently developing a biomass transport model in ArcGIS. I calculated the distance over the existing road network that must be traveled to transport all biomass from the agricultural fields to a potential biomass plant location.

The transport is performed by means of a tractor-trailer with a load capacity of 12 ton.

It is assumed that from the centroid of each of the 1960 agricultural parcels, at least 1 trip to the potential plant location departs. The amount of biomass that is available is different for each parcel. For some locations, this amount is smaller than the load capacity of 12 ton. This is why the average load factor of the tractor trailer is only 71%.

To increase this percentage, I would like to develop an ArcGIS algorithm that takes together parcels that have an available amount of biomass that is lower than 12 ton. This way, the number of parcels and thus also the number of departure points is decreased.

There are 2 conditions in combining parcels:

- The parcels should share at least a boundary. This way, the centroid of the 2 parcels that are taken together can be seen as the new departure point, instead of one departure point in each parcel. It is impossible to combine parcels that do not share a boundary.

- The parcels should be combined, up to a biomass amount of 12 ton. However, combining for example 3 adjacent parcels that have an available biomass amount of around 12/24/36,... ton is also a possibility. The aim is to increase the load factor as much as possible. Combing a parcel with a biomass amount of 5 ton and another parcel of 6 ton results in a new parcel with a biomass amount of 11 ton, which still increases the average load factor. (11/12) instead of (11/24)

Is there anybody who has an idea which way I can best combine the parcels, taking into account the fact that they should at least share one boundary?

Somebody gave me the tip that the aggregate tool of Spatial Analyst should be used, but for me it is quite unclear how I should deal with this.

Many thanks in advance.