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, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 489-508

A rich vehicle routing problem dealing with perishable food: a case study

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Abstract

This paper presents a successful application of operations research techniques in guiding the decision making process to achieve a superior operational efficiency in core activities. We focus on a rich vehicle routing problem faced by a Portuguese food distribution company on a daily basis. This problem can be described as a heterogeneous fleet site dependent vehicle routing problem with multiple time windows. We use the adaptative large neighbourhood search framework, which has proven to be effective to solve a variety of different vehicle routing problems. Our plans are compared against those of the company and the impact that the proposed decision support tool may have in terms of cost savings is shown. The algorithm converges quickly giving the planner considerably more time to focus on value-added tasks, rather than manually correct the routing schedule. Moreover, contrarily to the necessary adaptation time of the planner, the tool is quite flexible in following market changes, such as the introduction of new customers or new products.