Importance & Background
The technologies that enable fleet management are increasingly crucial instruments for several segments of the logistics sector. Dedicated software information systems offer instruments for the best resource use, which subsequently enables a decrease in costs for the transportation of products. Numerous research and development efforts are being conducted to address the issue of optimizing fleet management.
Since Dantzig and Ramser initially proposed the vehicle routing problem (VRP) in 1959, a variety of theoretical solutions have been investigated. Heuristic methods like the “routefirst cluster-second” approach (or the reverse) or two-stage methods like the Clarke and Wright algorithm based on greedy route constructions were taken into consideration. When solving increasingly complex variations of VRP, local search algorithms with metaheuristic control techniques like tabu search or simulated annealing are frequently taken into consideration. Previously, such heuristic approaches were mostly presented for very basic variants of VRP.
Research is also being done on some bio-inspired metaheuristics, such as evolutionary strategies like memetic algorithms or ant colony optimization methods for VRP. Many of the particular variations of VRP are now considered classic. Capacitated Vehicle Routing Problem (CVRP) and CVRP with time Windows (CVRPTW) are two of the more noticeable ones. Real-world logistics and transportation issues, however, are different from such classic issues for a number of reasons.
Real-world input datasets differ from traditional benchmarks in terms of structure and size due to factors like fleet heterogeneity, customer volume, and many others, which compels developers to come up with their own solutions to business problems. Additionally, it is necessary to add additional limitations to the traditional VRP issue variations brought on by the needs of clients and business context. These criteria are often quite particular and require specialized implementation. Even though several VRP strategies have been put out to far, specialized and tailored solutions are still required. Thus, a fascinating and significant path is that of research and development-related VRP that result from actual difficulties.