|Parnell, Jr., Calvin|
Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2006
Publication Date: 6/30/2006
Citation: Simpson, S.L., Parnell, C.B., Wanjura, J.D., Capareda, S.C., Shaw, B.W. 2006. Seed cotton transport analyses using GIS. In: Proceedings of the Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 3-6, 2006, San Antonio, TX. 2006 CDROM. p. 700-707. Interpretive Summary: Cotton ginners across the US cotton belt have faced challenges with regard to the transportation of seed cotton from the field to the gin since the introduction of the module builder. In many states, the vehicles used to haul cotton modules from the field to the gin exceed interstate height, width, and weight limitations (when loaded). Over the past two years, Texas cotton production has exceeded historical levels by approximately 2 million bales. Along with the challenges associated with processing this increased amount of cotton through the ginning facilities, ginners have been faced with increased pressure from state highway departments while transporting cotton modules on interstate highways. The focus of this paper is to give an update on the status of a project to develop a GIS (geographic information system) based logistics system for transporting cotton modules from the field to the gin. In addition, the benefits of converting to a semi-tractor trailer (STT) based cotton module transportation system are addressed. Several advantages are identified with using a GIS based logistics program when scheduling and routing vehicles to transport cotton modules. These advantages include: 1) the optimization of truck routes to minimize travel time and distance traveled, 2) the scheduling of trips to and from fields, 3) providing detailed directions to truck drivers, 4) using GPS in trucks to guide drivers directly to fields/modules, and 5) locating modules in fields. Several advantages are identified with using a SST to transport cotton modules from the field to the gin including: 1) more cotton can be transported per trip as the length of the vehicle is longer than conventional module trucks, 2) SST vehicles are legal for operation on interstate highways when loaded with cotton modules, and 3) the cost of transporting cotton on a SST is less than the cost of transporting cotton with conventional module trucks. Research is ongoing at Texas A&M to further develop these cotton module transportation tools.
Technical Abstract: Gin managers are under increasing pressure from state departments of transportation concerning seed cotton module transport. Module trucks are over height, width, and weight restrictions for most cotton producing states. Exceptions are allowed in many cases. Still, the module truck loaded with a module exceeds tandem axle weight limits for interstate highway travel. No exceptions are given. An alternative to the module truck is the semi-tractor trailer (STT). Fully-loaded, a STT would not exceed height, width, or even weight restrictions. STT may reduce the cost of transporting seed cotton compared to conventional module transporting with module trucks. However, modifications to the module formation system would be necessary to utilize the STT transport system economically. For a fifty mile round trip haul, an STT transport cost model predicts a $5.30 per bale cost and a corresponding module truck transport cost model predicts a $6.84 per bale cost. Other costly elements of module transportation include the routing of trucks and the locating of modules in fields. A geographic information system (GIS) software package, ArcGIS, has the capability to route trucks along shortest distance, quickest route, or alternate roads to pick up modules in the field and return to the gin. A research program for developing a transport tool using ArcGIS is in progress at Texas A&M University. Cotton production, ginning facilities, interstate highways, state highways, and local roads in the state of Texas have been mapped using ArcGIS. Color near infrared (NIR) aerial photos have been uploaded as well. The transport analyst feature in ArcGIS will allow for analyses of gin service areas, regional transport ability, and ultimately cost evaluations for transport.