Title: Optimising the periodic distribution of gas cylinders with customers priority

Authors: Chefi Triki; Jamila Akil; Nasser Al-Azri

Addresses: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman; Department of Engineering for Innovation, University of Salento, Via per Monteroni, 73100, Lecce, Italy ' Department of Natural Resource Economics, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman ' Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman

Abstract: This paper deals with a real-life application related to the distribution of gas cylinders to customers over a one-week horizon. Every customer should be served a pre-specified number of times during the week horizon. Customers are also characterised by a priority factor that expresses the importance of that customer to the company. Three heuristic methods have been develop based on a two-stage decomposition approach. The first stage assigns the customers to the service days and then, the second stage solves several VRPs, one for each working day. Several real-life experiments have been conducted to show that the heuristic that considers explicitly the customers priority performs well with respect to the other heuristics and also to the actual solution adopted by the company.

Keywords: transport problems; gas cylinders; gas cylinder distribution; customer priority; periodic constraints; optimisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJOR.2017.081478

International Journal of Operational Research, 2017 Vol.28 No.2, pp.279 - 289

Received: 02 Jan 2015
Accepted: 12 Jun 2015

Published online: 02 Jan 2017 *

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