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CLASH: a heuristic to solve vehicle routing problems with delivery, pick-up and time windows

Published Online:pp 460-477

This paper presents a multistage heuristic to solve a vehicle routing problem with delivery, pick-up and time windows that is applicable to the public healthcare system. Blood banks constitute a vital part of public healthcare services. Their logistics include blood procurement, processing, cross-matching, storage, distribution, recycling, pricing, quality control and outdating. This paper seeks to study the operational decision-making in the distribution of blood. The problem is considered with the condition that pick-up should occur last. We propose a methodology that exploits the inherent features of the problem. Prior to a meta-heuristic search, we form clusters of nodes, determine the route to be followed within a cluster and assign vehicles to routes in a feasible manner. Using this as input, we develop a genetic algorithm with innovative operators for crossover and mutation and conduct a rapid search to find a near-optimal solution. Computational results show that the new heuristic can solve problems effectively. Some of the results are better than the best solutions that have appeared in the literature.


logistics, vehicle routing, time windows, clustering, genetic algorithms, delivery, pick-up, public healthcare, operations management, operational decision making, blood banks, blood distribution