A Chance-Constrained Two-Echelon Vehicle Routing Problem with Stochastic Demands

Two-echelon distribution systems are often considered in city logistics to maintain economies of scale and satisfy the emission zone requirements in the cities. In this work, we formulate the two-echelon vehicle routing problem with stochastic demands as a chance-constrained stochastic optimization problem, where the total demand of the customers in each second-echelon route should fit within the vehicle capacity with a high probability. We propose two efficient solution procedures based on column generation. Key to the efficiency of these procedures is the underlying labeling algorithm to generate new columns. We propose a novel labeling algorithm based on simultaneous construction of second-echelon routes and a labeling algorithm that builds second-echelon routes sequentially. To further enhance the performance of the solution procedure, we use statistical inference techniques to ensure that the chance constraints are met. We reduce the number of customer combinations for which the chance constraint needs to be verified by imposing feasibility bounds on the stochastic customer demands. With these bounds, the runtimes of the labeling algorithms are reduced significantly. Finally, we show the value of the stochastic formulation in terms of improved solution cost and guaranteed feasibility of second-echelon routes.


Technical report, Eindhoven University of Technology, March 2020



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