The need for mobility that emerged in the last decades led to an impressive increase in the number of vehicles as well as to a saturation of transportation infrastructures. Consequently, traffic congestion, accidents, transportation delays, and polluting emissions are some of the most recurrent concerns transportation and city managers have to deal with. However, just building new infrastructures might be not sustainable because of their cost, the land usage, which usually lacks in metropolitan regions, and their negative impact on the environment. Therefore, a different way of improving the performance of transportation systems while enhancing travel safety has to be found in order to make people and good transportation operations more efficient and support their key role in the economic development of either a city or a whole country. The concept of City Logistics (CL) is being developed to answer to this need. Indeed, CL focus on reducing the number of vehicles operating in the city, controlling their dimension and characteristics. CL solutions do not only improve the transportation system but the whole logistics system within an urban area, trying to integrate interests of the several. This global view challenges researchers to develop planning models, methods and decision support tools for the optimization of the structures and the activities of the transportation system. In particular, this leads researchers to the definition of strategic and tactical problems belonging to well-known problem classes, including network design problem, vehicle routing problem (VRP), traveling salesman problem (TSP), bin packing problem (BPP), which typically act as sub-problems of the overall CL system optimization. When long planning horizons are involved, these problems become stochastic and, thus, must explicitly take into account the different sources of uncertainty that can affect the transportation system. Due to these reasons and the large-scale of CL systems, the optimization problems arising in the urban context are very challenging. Their solution requires investigations in mathematical and combinatorial optimization methods as well as the implementation of efficient exact and heuristic algorithms. However, contributions answering these challenges are still limited number. This work contributes in filling this gap in the literature in terms of both modeling framework for new planning problems in CL context and developing new and effective heuristic solving methods for the two-stage formulation of these problems. Three stochastic problems are proposed in the context of CL: the stochastic variable cost and size bin packing problem (SVCSBPP), the multi-handler knapsack problem under uncertainty (MHKPu) and the multi-path traveling salesman problem with stochastic travel times (mpTSPs). The SVCSBPP arises in supply-chain management, in which companies outsource the logistics activities to a third-party logistic firm (3PL). The procurement of sufficient capacity, expressed in terms of vehicles, containers or space in a warehouse for varying periods of time to satisfy the demand plays a crucial role. The SVCSBPP focuses on the relation between a company and its logistics capacity provider and the tactical-planning problem of determining the quantity of capacity units to secure for the next period of activity. The SVCSBPP is the first attempt to introduce a stochastic variant of the variable cost and size bin packing problem (VCSBPP) considering not only the uncertainty on the demand to deliver, but also on the renting cost of the different bins and their availability. A large number of real-life situations can be satisfactorily modeled as a MHKPu, in particular in the last mile delivery. Last mile delivery may involve different sequences of consolidation operations, each handled by different workers with different skill levels and reliability. The improper management of consolidation operations can cause delay in the operations reducing the overall profit of the deliveries. Thus, given a set of potential logistics handlers and a set of items to deliver, characterized by volume and random profit, the MHKPu consists in finding a subset of items which maximizes the expected total profit. The profit is given by the sum of a deterministic profit and a stochastic profit oscillation, with unknown probability distribution, due to the random handling costs of the handlers.The mpTSPs arises mainly in City Logistics applications. Cities offer several services, such as garbage collection, periodic delivery of goods in urban grocery distribution and bike sharing services. These services require the planning of fixed and periodic tours that will be used from one to several weeks. However, the enlarged time horizon as well as strong dynamic changes in travel times due to traffic congestion and other nuisances typical of the urban transportation induce the presence of multiple paths with stochastic travel times. Given a graph characterized by a set of nodes connected by arcs, mpTSPs considers that, for every pair of nodes, multiple paths between the two nodes are present. Each path is characterized by a random travel time. Similarly to the standard TSP, the aim of the problem is to define the Hamiltonian cycle minimizing the expected total cost. These planning problems have been formulated as two-stage integer stochastic programs with recourse. Discretization methods are usually applied to approximate the probability distribution of the random parameters. The resulting approximated program becomes a deterministic linear program with integer decision variables of generally very large dimensions, beyond the reach of exact methods. Therefore, heuristics are required. For the MHKPu, we apply the extreme value theory and derive a deterministic approximation, while for the SVCSBPP and the mpTSPs we introduce effective and accurate heuristics based on the progressive hedging (PH) ideas. The PH mitigates the computational difficulty associated with large problem instances by decomposing the stochastic program by scenario. When effective heuristic techniques exist for solving individual scenario, that is the case of the SVCSBPP and the mpTSPs, the PH further reduces the computational effort of solving scenario subproblems by means of a commercial solver. In particular, we propose a series of specific strategies to accelerate the search and efficiently address the symmetry of solutions, including an aggregated consensual solution, heuristic penalty adjustments, and a bundle fixing technique. Yet, although solution methods become more powerful, combinatorial problems in the CL context are very large and difficult to solve. Thus, in order to significantly enhance the computational efficiency, these heuristics implement parallel schemes. With the aim to make a complete analysis of the problems proposed, we perform extensive numerical experiments on a large set of instances of various dimensions, including realistic setting derived by real applications in the urban area, and combinations of different levels of variability and correlations in the stochastic parameters. The campaign includes the assessment of the efficiency of the meta-heuristic, the evaluation of the interest to explicitly consider uncertainty, an analysis of the impact of problem characteristics, the structure of solutions, as well as an evaluation of the robustness of the solutions when used as decision tool. The numerical analysis indicates that the stochastic programs have significant effects in terms of both the economic impact (e.g. cost reduction) and the operations management (e.g. prediction of the capacity needed by the firm). The proposed methodologies outperform the use of commercial solvers, also when small-size instances are considered. In fact, they find good solutions in manageable computing time. This makes these heuristics a strategic tool that can be incorporated in larger decision support systems for CL.

Titolo: | Stochastic programming for City Logistics: new models and methods |

Autori: | |

Data di pubblicazione: | 2015 |

Abstract: | The need for mobility that emerged in the last decades led to an impressive increase in the numbe...r of vehicles as well as to a saturation of transportation infrastructures. Consequently, traffic congestion, accidents, transportation delays, and polluting emissions are some of the most recurrent concerns transportation and city managers have to deal with. However, just building new infrastructures might be not sustainable because of their cost, the land usage, which usually lacks in metropolitan regions, and their negative impact on the environment. Therefore, a different way of improving the performance of transportation systems while enhancing travel safety has to be found in order to make people and good transportation operations more efficient and support their key role in the economic development of either a city or a whole country. The concept of City Logistics (CL) is being developed to answer to this need. Indeed, CL focus on reducing the number of vehicles operating in the city, controlling their dimension and characteristics. CL solutions do not only improve the transportation system but the whole logistics system within an urban area, trying to integrate interests of the several. This global view challenges researchers to develop planning models, methods and decision support tools for the optimization of the structures and the activities of the transportation system. In particular, this leads researchers to the definition of strategic and tactical problems belonging to well-known problem classes, including network design problem, vehicle routing problem (VRP), traveling salesman problem (TSP), bin packing problem (BPP), which typically act as sub-problems of the overall CL system optimization. When long planning horizons are involved, these problems become stochastic and, thus, must explicitly take into account the different sources of uncertainty that can affect the transportation system. Due to these reasons and the large-scale of CL systems, the optimization problems arising in the urban context are very challenging. Their solution requires investigations in mathematical and combinatorial optimization methods as well as the implementation of efficient exact and heuristic algorithms. However, contributions answering these challenges are still limited number. This work contributes in filling this gap in the literature in terms of both modeling framework for new planning problems in CL context and developing new and effective heuristic solving methods for the two-stage formulation of these problems. Three stochastic problems are proposed in the context of CL: the stochastic variable cost and size bin packing problem (SVCSBPP), the multi-handler knapsack problem under uncertainty (MHKPu) and the multi-path traveling salesman problem with stochastic travel times (mpTSPs). The SVCSBPP arises in supply-chain management, in which companies outsource the logistics activities to a third-party logistic firm (3PL). The procurement of sufficient capacity, expressed in terms of vehicles, containers or space in a warehouse for varying periods of time to satisfy the demand plays a crucial role. The SVCSBPP focuses on the relation between a company and its logistics capacity provider and the tactical-planning problem of determining the quantity of capacity units to secure for the next period of activity. The SVCSBPP is the first attempt to introduce a stochastic variant of the variable cost and size bin packing problem (VCSBPP) considering not only the uncertainty on the demand to deliver, but also on the renting cost of the different bins and their availability. A large number of real-life situations can be satisfactorily modeled as a MHKPu, in particular in the last mile delivery. Last mile delivery may involve different sequences of consolidation operations, each handled by different workers with different skill levels and reliability. The improper management of consolidation operations can cause delay in the operations reducing the overall profit of the deliveries. Thus, given a set of potential logistics handlers and a set of items to deliver, characterized by volume and random profit, the MHKPu consists in finding a subset of items which maximizes the expected total profit. The profit is given by the sum of a deterministic profit and a stochastic profit oscillation, with unknown probability distribution, due to the random handling costs of the handlers.The mpTSPs arises mainly in City Logistics applications. Cities offer several services, such as garbage collection, periodic delivery of goods in urban grocery distribution and bike sharing services. These services require the planning of fixed and periodic tours that will be used from one to several weeks. However, the enlarged time horizon as well as strong dynamic changes in travel times due to traffic congestion and other nuisances typical of the urban transportation induce the presence of multiple paths with stochastic travel times. Given a graph characterized by a set of nodes connected by arcs, mpTSPs considers that, for every pair of nodes, multiple paths between the two nodes are present. Each path is characterized by a random travel time. Similarly to the standard TSP, the aim of the problem is to define the Hamiltonian cycle minimizing the expected total cost. These planning problems have been formulated as two-stage integer stochastic programs with recourse. Discretization methods are usually applied to approximate the probability distribution of the random parameters. The resulting approximated program becomes a deterministic linear program with integer decision variables of generally very large dimensions, beyond the reach of exact methods. Therefore, heuristics are required. For the MHKPu, we apply the extreme value theory and derive a deterministic approximation, while for the SVCSBPP and the mpTSPs we introduce effective and accurate heuristics based on the progressive hedging (PH) ideas. The PH mitigates the computational difficulty associated with large problem instances by decomposing the stochastic program by scenario. When effective heuristic techniques exist for solving individual scenario, that is the case of the SVCSBPP and the mpTSPs, the PH further reduces the computational effort of solving scenario subproblems by means of a commercial solver. In particular, we propose a series of specific strategies to accelerate the search and efficiently address the symmetry of solutions, including an aggregated consensual solution, heuristic penalty adjustments, and a bundle fixing technique. Yet, although solution methods become more powerful, combinatorial problems in the CL context are very large and difficult to solve. Thus, in order to significantly enhance the computational efficiency, these heuristics implement parallel schemes. With the aim to make a complete analysis of the problems proposed, we perform extensive numerical experiments on a large set of instances of various dimensions, including realistic setting derived by real applications in the urban area, and combinations of different levels of variability and correlations in the stochastic parameters. The campaign includes the assessment of the efficiency of the meta-heuristic, the evaluation of the interest to explicitly consider uncertainty, an analysis of the impact of problem characteristics, the structure of solutions, as well as an evaluation of the robustness of the solutions when used as decision tool. The numerical analysis indicates that the stochastic programs have significant effects in terms of both the economic impact (e.g. cost reduction) and the operations management (e.g. prediction of the capacity needed by the firm). The proposed methodologies outperform the use of commercial solvers, also when small-size instances are considered. In fact, they find good solutions in manageable computing time. This makes these heuristics a strategic tool that can be incorporated in larger decision support systems for CL. |

Appare nelle tipologie: | 8.1 Doctoral thesis Polito |

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`http://hdl.handle.net/11583/2596359`