The inventory routing problem is a distribution problem in which each customer maintains a local inventory of a product such as heating oil and consumes a certain amount of that product each day. Each day a fleet of trucks is dispatched over a set of routes to resupply a subset of the customers. In this paper, we describe and compare algorithms for this problem defined over a short planning period, e.g. one week. These algorithms define the set of customers to be serviced each day and produce routes for a fleet of vehicles to service those customers. Two algorithms are compared in detail, one which first allocates deliveries to days and then solves a vehicle routing problem and a second which treats the multi-day problem as a modified vehicle routing problem. The comparison is based on a set of real data obtained from a propane distribution firm in Pennsylvania. The solutions obtained by both procedures compare quite favorably with those in use by the firm.
- Vehicle routing
- graph algorithms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Decision Sciences(all)
- Management Science and Operations Research