Human Knowledge in an Automated World: Optym Decision-Making Through Optimization



Many businesses struggle with optimization dilemmas in today’s fast-paced, digital world. Complex decision-making once decided by humans is now resolute by innovative software solutions. Applying industry research and sophisticated algorithms, Optym specializes in developing decision automation and optimization solutions for the transportation industry.


From Professor to Entrepreneur

Dr. Ravindra Ahuja

Dr. Ravindra Ahuja, President and CEO of Optym, is an academic professor turned entrepreneur. His academic career spans over 30 years teaching at the Indian Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Florida (UF). Ravi began his entrepreneurial journey at UF conducting research for transportation and logistics companies. “I discovered a disconnect between academic theory and industry practice,” Ravi explained. “I observed optimization advances were not benefitting the transportation industry which continued to rely and utilize rudimentary techniques.”


Determined to modernize the industry by connecting theory to practice, Ravi founded Optym in 2000. It evolved from a start-up business in Gainesville, Florida to a global provider for decision automation and optimization solutions with over 225 employees with branches in four countries. His hands-on approach to solve problems, design algorithms, and utilize user-interfaces creates successful outcomes for clients and unlocks millions of dollars in extra profitability.


Florida Acquires Talent from 20 Countries

The team hails from 20 countries across six continents bringing different ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds. “This diversity fosters an atmosphere of cooperation, understanding and openness to new ideas and perspectives,” Ravi stated. “It allows us to learn more about each other and the world.” Yet, with all the individual distinctiveness, employees still share a passion for problem solving and creating positive societal impacts. The contributions of each employee are considered equal; therefore, inspiring team members to share ideas and opinions. “We encourage employees to enhance and share knowledge through workshops, certifications and diverse channels of professional development,” Ravi said.


Optym employs specialized experts in data analytics, operations research, information technology, computer science and project management to expand systems in rapid development mode. Good thing UF is down the street. Optym partners with the university and recruits qualified talent from its nationally recognized engineering programs. Ravi states, “The talent pool in Florida is exceptional. Being near UF allows us to reach emerging talent. We pride ourselves on treating our team members as business owners, and we nurture employees’ long-term career aspirations.”


Enhancing Aviation Processes

Deciding fly patterns is a complex process determining safety, product and revenue potential for airlines. Optym utilizes industry expertise and global reach to provide advanced scheduling software optimizing operational functions that best allocate aircrafts, assets and resources to maximize network profitability. These comprehensive schedule development platforms meet customer demands, emphasize schedule efficiency, forecast schedules within hours, improve operational performances, analyze simulations, and plan solutions. “Southwest Airlines hired Optym to develop its first flight schedule optimization system. The software solutions developed by Optym are creating huge profitability improvements for Southwest,” Ravi said.


Reducing LTL Carriers Line-Haul Costs

Trucking companies carry over 70 percent of the freight tonnage moved within the US. These volumes are expected to increase as population and consumption increases. Optym creates, analyzes and executes plans dealing with operational constraints and shipment volumes. Additionally, Optym identifies areas of improvement and performance disruption management. “Less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers experience the most difficult optimization problems,” Ravi explained. “We crack these difficult decision problems and develop optimization solutions reducing line-haul costs by three to six percent.”


Railroad Decision-Making Solutions

For centuries, railroad systems transported imports and exports across prairies, deserts, and mountain ranges. The industry has expanded into a complex network of tracks, yards, trains, locomotives and crews. To attract business, rail companies must offer reliable schedules, quality services, and reasonable costs. Yet, multiple networks store railroad data which often lead to quality and integration issues. Decision-makers may not discern informed decisions due to lack of appropriate data. As experienced staff retire, railroad companies are losing domain expertise; therefore, must capture human insight with automation to enhance decision-making skills.


Optym recognizes the difficulty rail companies encounter managing technical challenges and executing plans. Therefore, Optym simulations implement operational data to perform a variety of what-if studies and then recommend optimal configurations leading to effective, efficient and innovative solutions. To maximize productivity, data analytics prepare current data solutions in the appropriate format for train and locomotive scheduling, yard planning, and crew scheduling. “We have partnerships with BHP Billiton and CSX Transportation, two of the largest companies in the railroad industry,” Ravi said. “Optym is at the forefront of building innovative applications that are the first of their kind for many of these transportation companies.”


Live Efficiently

Ravi’s entrepreneurial journey interconnects theory and practice to generate more efficient optimization throughout the world. He trusts Gainesville, Florida is an unsurpassed location to conduct business due to its talent pool, attractive atmosphere, cultural offering, climate and low cost of living. With a rapidly expanding business and exciting new partnerships occurring, the Sunshine State is sure to be home to Optym for decades to come.