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Routing design for less-than-truckload motor carriers using ant colony techniques

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2004-07
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One of the most important challenges for Less-Than-Truck-Load carriers consists of determining how to consolidate flows of small shipments to minimize costs while maintaining a certain level of service. For any origin-destination pair, there are several strategies to consolidate flows, but the most usual ones are: peddling/collecting routes and shipping through one or more break-bulk terminals. Therefore, the target is determining a route for each origin-destination pair that minimizes the total transportation and handling cost guaranteeing a certain level of service. Exact resolution is not viable for real size problems due to the excessive computational time required. This research studies different aspects of the problem and provides a metaheuristic algorithm (based on Ant Colonies Optimization techniques) capable of solving real problems in a reasonable computational time. The viability of the approach has been proved by means of the application of the algorithm to a real Spanish case, obtaining encouraging results.
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