Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Southern African Transport Conference 12 - 15 July 2004 "Getting recognition for the importance of transport", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. Gravel roads are maintained by an activity called blading, which entails the redistribution of
surface material over the road surface using a mechanical grader. Blading may be performed
dry or wet, depending on the condition of the road surface, and compacting of the graded
road may also be required in some cases. The required frequency of blading is a function of
the road usage pattern and the properties of its surface material. Emergency blading may be
required when a road was damaged by natural phenomena or an abnormal usage pattern.
The Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) is supporting research aimed at the
optimization of blading activities on its gravel road network. To start off an investigation was
undertaken to determine the constraints and variables that would determine the domain
within which optimised routes for blading teams might be determined. Based on the results of
this investigation, two possible solution techniques were devised and a third possibility
identified through a literature study. The constraints and variables of the particular problem
are described as well as the possible solution techniques. The merits of simulation-based
optimisation are compared to those of directly solved algorithmic optimisation.
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