The question I am trying to answer is 'where best to build a saw mill based on road distances from supply and wood volume from each supply'.

The data I have is wood supply location/volume as point features and a road network.

I have tried the 'mean center'tool with a weight field added which has been great as a starting point but I now need the center point to move along the road network based on road distance and wood supply.

I am using ArcMap 10.3 and I have a Network Analyst licence.


2 Answers 2


In ArcGIS world, Location-Allocation Tool in the Network Analysis extension would answer your question elegantly. However if you do not have access to this extension, you may be required to work on an optimisation process (or brute force enumeration approach) which will most probably involve use of Python (or similar) to find your answer. The latter one is basically creating an alternative to the aforementioned tool.

  • thank you for your quick reply I have just had a play with the Location allocation tool but I am failing to get it to work. Can the tool run with only facilities loaded and a network? Sep 19, 2016 at 1:01

I am assuming you have the wood supply and road distance as attributes in the road data.

Run the mean center tool 3 times on the road data. First on the geometry, then weighted by wood supply, then weighted by road distance. Then merge the three resulting points and run the mean center tool once again to find the center of the 3 points.

Alternatively, you should look at using the spatial analyst extension if you have a license. You can perform this task through raster analysis by creating cost-paths and cost-distances. The tools you need are in the distance toolset under the spatial analyst tools. There is extensive documentation on the spatial analyst tools if you need more information.

Cost distance: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/how-the-cost-distance-tools-work.htm

Cost path: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/cost-path.htm

Cost corridor: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/creating-a-least-cost-corridor.htm

Cost allocation: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/cost-allocation.htm

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