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Transport optimisation for the distribution of grocery products

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Published on Thursday, 29 June 2017

An efficient distribution system is essential for every grocery retailer as it amounts to around 20% of total logistics costs. Optimization of the delivery process is therefore a central problem for retailers and cost efficient solutions are needed.

The Luxembourg Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of Luxembourg has investigated the improvement potential by using multi-temperature trucks for the grocery transport.

In their paper, “Multi-compartment vehicle routing with loading and unloading costs”, a forthcoming publication in Transportation Science, Prof. Alexander Hübner and his co-author Manuel Ostermeier from the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt show how and under which circumstances retailer benefit from using multi-compartment trucks.

They show how different temperature-specific product segments can be transported together using multi-compartment vehicles. These trucks are technically able to have multiple temperature zones by separating the capacity of a vehicle flexibly into temperature-controlled compartments. This leads to cost savings as different product segments ordered by one outlet can be delivered jointly using only one truck.

The authors present a vehicle routing problem and account for the related loading and unloading costs. To solve the problem, a large neighborhood search tailored to the extended model is developed. It is tested using a case study with a German retailer and benchmark data. Results are also compared to existing approaches. It is shown that the integration of loading and unloading costs into the model impacts routing considerably, and ultimately results in significant savings potential for retailers.

For more details about this paper, please contact the author, Prof. Alexander Hübner.