An efficient variable neighborhood search heuristic for very large scale vehicle routing problems
In this paper, we present an efficient variable neighborhood search heuristic for the capacitated vehicle routing problem. The objective is to design least cost routes for a fleet of identically capacitated vehicles to service geographically scattered customers with known demands. The variable neighborhood search procedure is used to guide a set of standard improvement heuristics. In addition, a strategy reminiscent of the guided local search metaheuristic is used to help escape local minima. The developed solution method is specifically aimed at solving very large scale real-life vehicle routing problems. To speed up the method and cut down memory usage, new implementation concepts are used. Computational experiments on 32 existing large scale benchmarks, as well as on 20 new very large scale problem instances, demonstrate that the proposed method is fast, competitive and able to find high-quality solutions for problem instances with up to 20,000 customers within reasonable CPU times.