The Robust Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows has been gaining popularity over the past few years due to its focus on tackling uncertainty inherent to real world problems. Most of the current approaches in generating robust solutions require prior knowledge on the uncertainties, such as uncertainties in travel time. Hence, they are less than favorable to use in the absence of data, i.e., in the case of data starvation. In this paper, we present an evolutionary algorithm that in the absence of data on travel time uncertainty, provides a decision maker with a collection of solutions, each with a corresponding level of trade-off between total travel distance and solution robustness. In particular, we present a novel realization of route flexibility and its relation to solution robustness. Furthermore, we propose a bi-objective evolutionary algorithm for the vehicle routing problem with time windows where the objectives are (a) total travel distance and (b) solution flexibility. The proposed algorithm is tested on the well-known Solomon benchmarks and a trade-off analysis between total distance and solution flexibility is provided based on the obtained test results. Based on observations from the trade-off analysis, a number of suggestions to improve the current logistics system are provided.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.