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Department of Management Sciences, Tippie College of Business, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Jill Hardin Wilson

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois

appeared in 1974 in a paper about garbage collection

(Beltrami and Bodin, Networks 4 (1974), 6574). The wide

applicability and versatility of the problem has led to a

vast body of literature addressing both novel applications and solution methods. This article discusses the

wide array of circumstances and settings in which the

PVRP has been applied and describes the development

of solution methods, both exact and heuristic, for the

PVRP. As with many core research problems, many variants have been proposed. We will describe additional

problem variants and extensions, as well as discuss the

future of research for the PVRP. 2013 Wiley Periodicals,

Inc. NETWORKS, Vol. 63(1), 215 2014

Keywords:

1. INTRODUCTION

In the standard periodic vehicle routing problem (PVRP),

customers require visits on one or more days within a planning period, and there are a set of feasible visit options i

for each customer i. Customers must be assigned to a feasible

visit option i i , and a (VRP) is solved for each day in the

planning period. The typical objective is to minimize the total

distance traveled over the planning period. In Figure 1, we

provide an example of a PVRP with a 2-day planning period

which initially appeared in [52]. In this example, customer 1

must be visited twice so = {1, 2}. Customers 2 and 3 must

be visited once so 2 = 3 = {{1}, {2}}. In Figure 1a, we

show the route for day 1, and in Figure 1b, we show the route

for day 2. Here, 1 = {1, 2}, 2 = {1}, and 3 = {2}, and the

total distance over 2 days is 34.

The PVRP arises in a diverse array of applications,

from the collection of recyclables, to the routing of home

Correspondence to: A. M. Campbell; e-mail: ann-campbell@uiowa.edu

DOI 10.1002/net.21527

Published online 1 October 2013 in Wiley Online Library

(wileyonlinelibrary.com).

2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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healthcare nurses, to the collection of data in wireless networks. The wide applicability and versatility of the problem,

coupled with the problems difficulty, has led to a vast body of

literature addressing both novel applications and ever more

successful solution methods. The PVRP is truly a global problem. Table 1 was created by recording the listed national

affiliation of the lead author of the references that are included

in this article, excluding survey papers and citations not

specifically related to periodic routing. Table 1 demonstrates

that interest in the study of the PVRP and its applications

arises around the world, and it is not difficult to imagine

some variation of the problem arising in most any country,

even if not represented by the set of publications cited here.

The PVRP was first introduced in Networks and Vehicle

Routing for Municipal Waste Collection by [12]. To the best

of our knowledge, this is the first time the periodicity of customer deliveries was specifically addressed in combination

with the consideration of vehicle routing costs. Thus, [12] is

the parent publication of the many papers that focus on routing problems with periodic customer deliveries. Motivated

by their work with the New York City Environmental Protection Agency, the authors look at several interesting problems

related to the idea of garbage collection. The first problem

they consider is how to route vehicles to pick up garbage at

large industrial sites to minimize both the number of vehicles

and the total travel time. This is very different than previously studied vehicle routing problems because of the nature

of the demand. Some sites need to be serviced three times a

week, whereas other sites require deliveries six times a week

(which is daily in the NYC application). The customers that

are serviced three times a week can be served on Monday,

Wednesday, and Friday; or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This choice affects the daily routing problems, which

can in turn impact the travel times and the number of vehicles required. Beltrami and Bodin [12] also introduce the first

two key heuristics used to solve the problem.

Ref. [12] is highly cited also in part because it introduced

one of the earliest examples of the arc routing problem, in this

case examining how to route street sweepers on the streets of

New York to minimize deadheading. The arc routing problem

FIG. 1.

also has a very rich history, but we will not address it here.

For excellent surveys on arc routing problems, see [8], [36],

[37], and [33].

In any search online or scan of review papers, it becomes

quickly apparent that there are two other very influential

papers in the early history of periodic vehicle routing: An

assignment routing problem by R. Russell and W. Igo, which

appeared in 1979, and The periodic routing problem by N.

Christofides and J.E. Beasley, which appeared in 1984. Beltrami and Bodin [12] obviously predates the other two and

is cited by both of them, but many papers related to periodic

routing cite [81] or [19] in lieu of [12]. Although Beltrami and

Bodin [12] introduced the problem, the papers by Christofides

and Beasley [19] and Russell and Igo [81] are highly cited

due to the important roles they played in the development of

the PVRP.

Beltrami and Bodin [12] introduces the idea of considering

the periodicity of site visits in conjunction with routing costs,

but does not give this new problem a name. Russell and Igo

[81] gives the periodic routing problem a name, calling it

The Assignment Routing Problem. They make the delivery

times a little more flexible than in [12] by specifying that

each customer i receives deliveries on Si different days in

a week, where 1 Si 7. There can also be additional

specifications on which days of the week are acceptable. The

number of vehicles are given and capacity constraints must

be followed.

Christofides and Beasley [19] is also well cited by periodic

routing papers, likely due in part to the fact that it names

the problem the period routing problem and provides the

first mathematical formulation for the problem. The authors

generalize the problem definition such that customers now

given set of allowable k-day combinations.

The first article that uses the term periodic vehicle routing appears to be [45]. This article is unlike previous ones

in that it focuses on minimizing the fleet size. The authors

introduce yet a different definition of periodicity from the

above three, enforcing that at least Ki days and at most Ui

days must elapse between visits to customer i. All of these

early publications also present heuristics to solve the problem

that are built on by later investigators. These methods will be

discussed further in section 4.

The PVRP is a challenging problem, with a rich history of research spanning the last 40 years. In this article,

we will describe the evolution of periodic vehicle routing

as it has progressed since the 1974 paper, focusing on the

breadth of contexts in which it has been applied and solution

TABLE 1.

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provide problem descriptions for the PVRP and its more

prominent variants. Applications for periodic routing extend

far beyond garbage collection, and we will describe the variety of applications where periodic routing occurs in section 3.

We describe the development of solution methods, both exact

and heuristic, for the PVRP in section 4. As with many core

research problems, many variants have been proposed. We

will describe additional problem variants and extensions in

section 5 and discuss the future of the PVRP in section 6.

2. PROBLEM DEFINITION

As noted above, the wide variety of papers on the PVRP

differ in how strictly they define the allowable delivery schedule alternatives and, consequently, in the number of feasible

combinations that can be generated. Three main representations have been proposed in the literature for definining the

delivery options to a set of customers V . Some papers include

a predetermined set of allowable alternatives as in [12] and

[19], whereas others, such as [18] and [30], specify that deliveries to a customer i V must occur every ri days. Others

enforce constraints on the minimum and maximum required

spacing between deliveries, as in [45]. We will consider all

of these definitions of periodicity in our discussion of the

PVRP. In fact, all of these representations can be viewed as

specific cases of the PVRP definition introduced earlier, in

which there is a planning period T , and for each customer

i V there is a set of feasible visit options i over T . The

aim, then, is to assign each customer to one of its allowable

sets of service combinations i i , and to create daily

routes subject to the following set of constraints:

all vehicles begin and end their day at a single depot,

if a product is to be delivered or collected, the quantity will

be known and will be fully satisfied by a single vehicle,

the number of vehicles is given,

each vehicle has a limited capacity, and

there is a limitation on the total travel time for each route.

travel costs subject to these limitations. We will focus on this

objective, with minor variations in how travel costs are computed, in sections 3 and 4, but discuss alternative objectives

in section 5.

A few basic variants of the PVRP should be introduced

early in the article, as innovations in solving them are tied to

innovations in solving the PVRP. The periodic traveling salesman problem (PTSP) is a special case of the PVRP restricted

to one vehicle. The PVRP with time windows (PVRPTW)

generalizes the PVRP to include time windows for deliveries to the customers. In the multidepot VRP (MDVRP),

each vehicle is assigned to one from a set of depots where it

begins and end each delivery route, and the planning horizon

is restricted to a single day. Cordeau et al. [30] demonstrate

that the MDVRP can be viewed as a special case of the PVRP

by considering each of T depots to be a day on a T -day

planning horizon, and each customer to require one delivery over that horizon. The PVRP (MDPVRP), on the other

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problem. If the customers and vehicles are preassigned to

depots, the problem decomposes into a set of PVRPs. If the

problem requires assigning customers to depots, solving the

problem now involves making these assignment decisions,

representing a generalization of the PVRP.

The literature on the PVRP considers a number of variants

of the PVRP beyond these. Some of these variants require

substantial modifications to solution methods; these will be

discussed further in section 5. These include papers with significant differences in the objective function, constraints, or

both.

3. APPLICATIONS

The applications for the PVRP are quite diverse. We will

review many of these and discuss the nature of the periodicity where it is not obvious. We will categorize them primarily

by whether a product is being picked up, a product is being

delivered, or a person or machine is being routed to perform an on-site service. The applications we will discuss are

summarized in Table 2.

3.1. Pickup

As stated earlier, the motivation for Beltrami and Bodin

[12] is the collection of industrial garbage in New York City,

and many of the papers related to the PVRP also focus on

the collection of garbage and other wastes. Many model the

residential garbage collection as an arc routing problem as all

customers have the same frequency and all customers on a

street are usually served together, but there are exceptions that

take more of a PVRP approach. For example, Nuortio et al.

[67] solve a waste collection problem in Eastern Finland for

residential customers with varying collection requirements

as a PVRP. This article justifies the use of node routing, versus arc routing, due to the sparsely distributed customers in

the service area. Matos and Oliveira [63] describe efforts to

improve residential garbage collection among 8087 sites in

Viseu, Portugal. Instead of using an arc routing approach,

the authors reduce the 8087 sites to 202 localities and solve

a PVRP among these localities. Angelelli and Speranza [7]

use PVRP solution methods to evaluate the operational costs

of different technologies for garbage collection. For example, they compare traditional pickup of garbage at individual

houses with having citizens put their waste into big street

containers that can be picked up by more expensive trucks.

The number of papers that involve the PVRP has definitely

grown as the emphasis on recycling has increased. As societal

interest in recycling grows, more recyclable products need to

be collected from consumers, creating higher costs that companies and cities want to minimize. Bommisetty et al. [15], for

example, consider the problem of collecting recyclable materials at Northern Illinois University. The problem is modeled

as a PVRP in which different buildings on campus require

different numbers of visits per week and one truck is available for collecting all types of recyclables. Baptista et al. [11]

TABLE 2.

Applications of PVRP.

present a case study of the collection of recycling paper containers in a city in Portugal. Feasible combinations for each

customer are generated such that the containers would be

at least 50% full on collection day. Unlike the traditional

PVRP, the objective function considered here is one of profit

maximization. Becuase recyclable products can be sold, the

cost/benefit tradeoff of collecting a recyclable can be incorporated in the problem. Teixeira et al. [88] look at how to collect

three types of waste (glass, paper, and plastic/metal) at 1642

urban locations of varying delivery frequency in a region

in Portugal. Their problem becomes a PVRP for each type

of waste with a planning horizon of 4 weeks. Hemmelmayr

et al. [56] consider the periodic collection of recyclables, but

these recyclables are delivered to one of a set of intermediate

facilties, rather than the depot. This problem variant will be

discussed in some detail in section 5.

Other types of recyclables include waste vegetable oil

([1]). New technologies are being developed to use waste

oil in the production of biodiesel. Unlike a regular PVRP,

this problem also incorporates the selection of which potential source points to include on pickup routes. Their work

is motivated by a biodiesel production facility in Istanbul.

Potential waste sources include restaurants, hotels, and hospitals. The periodicity emerges from the different rates at

which the source points generate waste oil. A predetermined

production plan dictates the amount of input needed each

day, so service at all potential source points may not be

needed.

Besides garbage and recyclables, collection is needed for

other waste products that are generated periodically. Shih

and Lin[85] and Shih and Chang [84] model the collection of

infectious waste at 384 hospitals and clinics in Taiwan as a

PVRP. The motivation for this work is the lack of incinerators,

or access to incinerators, and the importance of carefully disposing of infectious waste. Thus, the collection of this waste

became an emerging need. The periodicity enters the problem because hospitals are only able to hold waste for a certain

per week due to the volume of waste generated. Coene et al.

[26] examine the collection of animal waste from slaughterhouses, butchers, and supermarkets in Belgium and northern

France. The rate at which this waste is generated and the

storage capacity available are used to determine the number

of visits needed. For example, supermarkets tend to require

visits every day, while smaller butchers require only weekly

pickups. Legislation that originated due to the outbreak of

mad cow disease in the 1990s led to the categorization of

animal waste into high-risk and low-risk categories. Vehicles assigned to collecting high-risk waste cannot be used

to collect low-risk waste and vice versa. Thus, the problem

decomposes into two different instances of the PVRP.

Other products are collected periodically besides waste

products. For example, Claassen and Hendriks [23] examine how to improve goat milk collection in the Netherlands.

Dairies only want to buy specified kinds of milk on specified

days, so both the customers (farmers) and the dairies have

acceptable visit days. Alegre et al. [2] consider the collection

of parts for use in auto parts manufacturing in Northern Spain.

The production schedules of the suppliers and the manufacturer determine feasible visit sequences for each supplier. The

focus is on how to solve instances with long time horizons of

up to 90 days. Goncalves et al. [50] model how to extract oil

from wells in Brazil using mobile units. Each well needs a

specified number of days between visits for a sufficient quantity to be collected. Le Blanc et al. [61] examine the factory

gate pricing problem where goods are not delivered from a

distribution center (DC) but are picked up by the retailer at

the factory gates of the suppliers. The authors try to examine the potential benefits of factory gate pricing for Dutch

retailers. Retailers would have to make decisions about the

frequency of these pickups and the modes of transportation.

In the proposed solution process, as different frequency allocations are considered, PVRP subproblems are created that

are solved with heuristics.

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3.2. Delivery

The first application, besides garbage collection, of the

PVRP to appear in the literature is in [49] where the authors

examine the delivery of Coca-Cola products to stores. The

drivers have their own territories that include the stores

where they routinely sell their products. Some customers

receive deliveries once per week, where others, due to shelf

space, require deliveries twice per week. Grocery stores also

motivate the study by Gaur and Fisher [46] of the periodic inventory routing problem. The maximum time between

deliveries to stores is defined, and trucks must be routed

from a single DC to satisfy these requirements with minimum transportation cost. Stores are grouped into clusters, so

that all stores in a cluster are replenished together.

Ronen and Goodhart [79] examine how to replenish over

one thousand stores from several DC. Due to changes in

demand patterns over the year, the frequency at which stores

are visited may change, thus new routes need to be created.

Most stores are visited between two and six times per week,

and these deliveries need to be evenly spaced over the week

for storage reasons. The workload at the DC to prepare for

these deliveries must also be considered due to limited picking and loading capacity. Because each store is preassigned

to a DC, the problems can be solved for each DC separately.

Rademeyer and Benetto [78] also consider delivery to retail

stores, where stores are visited between 1 and 6 days a week.

These stores represent one of South Africas largest retail

chains with over 275 stores.

Banerjea-Brodeur et al. [10] give another example of

deliveries that are modeled using the PVRP. The authors

considered the delivery of hospital linens such as bedsheets,

pillow cases, gowns, and towels to the 58 different clinics

within the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. The authors

were not concerned with the collection of linens, as they

were sent to the laundry via an elaborate chute system. After

looking at the historical usage by different departments in

conjunction with the space limitations in each department,

delivery frequencies could be established for each unit of

the hospital. Once these frequencies were established, the

problem could be solved as a PVRP.

One of the biggest applications of the PVRP is in solving

inventory routing problems. In vendor-managed inventory

systems, the vendor decides when to visit his or her customers

and how much to deliver to prevent the customer from running out of product. Many of the papers on the inventory

routing problem, particularly the early ones, decompose the

problem such that the first step is to use usage rate information about customers to determine a delivery frequency. This

period between visits should be as long as possible to minimize delivery costs, but should be sufficiently small to keep

the customer from running out of product. Once this period

is known, the remaining problem can be solved as a PVRP

for a defined planning period. For example, Rusdiansyah and

Tsao [80] transform an inventory routing problem inspired

by the replenishment of vending machines into an instance

of the PVRPTW. The delivery frequencies for the vending

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costs and travel costs. In [13], the authors compute a frequency for each customer based on a modified economic

order quantity calculation and use these frequencies to define

a PVRP. Hemmelmayr et al. [55] transform an inventory routing problem for the blood bank for the Austrian Red Cross

into a PVRP. They evaluate the performance of their solution techniques using data from the Austrian Red Cross from

2003. For a thorough review of approaches used in solving

the inventory routing problem, see [25].

The only application of the PVRP that involves both

pickup and delivery that we encountered is in [43]. Here, the

authors consider the distribution problem motivated by interlibrary loan services for the North Suburban Library System

in northern Chicago. Vans leave a sorting facility and periodically visit libraries to deliver interlibrary loan items and

pick up items that need to be returned to the depot.

3.3. Routing for On-Site Service

Periodic routing problems emerge in the planning of routes

for salespeople and for those doing repair and maintenance

work. For example, planning the routes for sales representatives for the Missouri lottery via the PVRP was the subject

of [58]. The 39 sales representatives for the lottery visit the

5043 retailers that sell lottery tickets. Most retailers are visited every 2 weeks, but the high volume retailers are visited

weekly. At these visits, the sales representative checks on

inventory, replenishes stock, collects returned tickets, and

inspects the equipment. One issue considered by the authors

is that many sales representatives have long standing relationships with their retailers, so they preserved the current

assignment of retailers to territories. This decomposes the

problem into a series of single vehicle problems. Blakeley

et al. [14] optimize periodic maintenance of elevators and

escalators for Schindler, one of the worlds largest escalator

and elevator companies. The intervals for different maintenance tasks range from monthly to yearly. Unlike most

applications of the PVRP, the skillsets for the technicians vary

and must be considered in the assignment process. Prior to the

development of the new routing and scheduling system, the

company developed tours at their 250 offices in the U.S. and

Canada using spreadsheets and roadmaps. Their new system,

based on solving PVRPs, is estimated to save the company

over $1 million annually. Hadjiconstantinou and Baldacci

[54] examine how a utility company provides preventive

maintenance to 162 customers using a fleet of 17 depot-based

gangs. Service to the utility customers ranges from once per

day to once every 4 weeks. The gangs are assigned to different depots, and these depots represent the starting and ending

point of the tours. Thus, the problem is an application of the

MDPVRP. Clatanoff [24] looks at how to allocate and route

quality assurance inspectors among the 26 locations where

their services are required. The inpectors are based at two

locations and travel by car to the inspection sites, and the planning period considered is an entire year. The authors focus

is more on the minimization of the number of inspectors.

at home can also be viewed as an application of the PVRP.

Maya et al. [64] examine the problem of how to assign teaching assistants to help disabled students. Every morning, the

teaching assistants depart from their homes and travel from

school to school to visit the pupils that have been assigned to

them for that day. At the end of the working day, the teaching

assistants return to their homes. Thus, the problem involves

multiple depots as in the MDPVRP. The government is interested in reducing the total mileage for the teaching assistants

to visit the students since that is the primary driver of their

compensation. The periodicity comes from the type of disability the students have. Students with moderate disabilities

are visited once per week, whereas students with more severe

disabilties receive two visits per week. A related problem is

covered by [6] who consider the routing of home healthcare

nurses in Korea. The nurses will begin and end each day at

the hospital, and the intervals between visits will vary for different patients depending on the seriousness of the illness. At

the company in Korea that motivated this work, each patient

is assigned to a nurse, so the problem becomes a series of

PTSP problems.

An emerging application of the PVRP is in the collection

of data. Almiani et al. [4] consider a periodic routing problem

motivated by the growth in wireless sensor networks. Mobile

mechanisms (e.g., a vehicle equipped with a data transceiver)

visit each sensor and collect data. As the data generation rate

may be different for different sensors, the frequency of visits

to each sensor will vary. For example, sensors at industrial

locations must be visited more often than residential locations. The problem is to route the mobile mechanisms to

satisfy these frequencies. Giger [48] examines planning tools

for use with unmanned underwater vehicles. Such vehicles

are used in the oil and gas industry and in several branches of

the military. These vehicles have sensors that perform different kinds of readings, and these readings must occur at sites

periodically.

4. SOLUTION METHODS

Section 3 describes a wide variety of real-world contexts

in which the PVRP and its variants can be applied. Yet successful application of the problem requires solution methods

capable of producing good solutions in a reasonable amount

of time. Next, we turn to a discussion of solution methods for

periodic routing problems with careful note of key datasets

used for testing.

Although the presentation of solution methods here is

organized according to the type of method, it is interesting to note that the historical arc of publications follows

this organization rather closely. Early approaches for the

PVRP essentially focused on construction and improvement heuristics, sometimes assigning customers to days

before routing them, and sometimes creating routes and

then attempting to assign these routes to days. As applications of the PVRP became more prevalent and computational

power increased, these relatively straightforward approaches

demonstrated considerable success on the problem. Although

several researchers developed exact (i.e., mathematical programming) approaches, these are often unable to solve the

large instances that arise in many applications. Only recently

have computational power and innovative mathematical programming methods combined to result in tractable exact

approaches for the PVRP.

A number of publications present heuristics designed

specifically to deal with problems arising in applications.

These heuristics often exploit special characteristics of the

problem in question, thus they are not applied to general

PVRP instances. Of particular note are [85], [84], [79], [26],

and [6] who all utilize information based on integer programming (IP) to drive their solution procedures, whereas

Teixeira et al. [88] and Nuortio et al. [67] use special-purpose

heuristics and metaheuristics. More detailed information on

the applications driving these approaches can be found in

section 3. We note, however, that many of the most successful solution methods in the literature for the standard PVRP

were also developed in response to interesting applications.

Though these applications have been described in section 3,

we mention some of them again here to point out their innovations in solving the PVRP without further comment on the

applications themselves.

4.1. Early Approaches

Beltrami and Bodin [12] introduces the first two key

heuristics used to solve the PVRP. The first idea is to route

customers using a Clarke and Wright procedure, then assign

routes to days. The second idea is to randomly assign customers to delivery days and create routes for each day based

on this assignment. In the heuristic presented by [81], the

authors cluster customers that are close together and that have

the same weekly delivery requirements to reduce the problem size. Once the problem is sufficiently small, they consider

three heuristics. The first assigns all daily customers to each

day of the week, then schedules the remaining customers

based on the estimated costs of combining with customers

already scheduled on those days. These estimates are based

on values such as average distance to the centroid of customers serviced on a given day. Customers are inserted in

order of highest to lowest delivery frequency. Their second

approach uses link exchanges to improve the initial solution

created by the first heuristic. Their third heuristic uses Clarke

and Wright ideas, modified to enforce the spacing of periodic deliveries throughout the week. Russell and Igo [81] also

introduce a 490 customer dataset to test their approaches for

the periodic routing problem. In their approach, the 490 customers are clustered to create a 126 customer problem. This

dataset has been used by many others to test their solution

approaches.

Christofides and Beasley [19] offer an exact formulation, but solve the problem via a heuristic. Their heuristic

assigns customers to days and then solves the resulting daily

VRPs. The initial assignment is based on an initial ordering

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combinations and the largest delivery quantities are scheduled first, as these create the biggest challenge for creating

feasible solutions. Customers are inserted in this order using

the allowable delivery combination that yields the smallest

increase in total costs. An improvement method is proposed

that considers swapping customers from one allowable combination to another. Because this improvement would result

in solving many new VRPs, they propose simplifications such

as solving the new daily problems as median problems and as

travelling salesman problems (TSPs). These simplifications

are also solved with heuristics. The authors test their approach

with the dataset from [81] as well as 10 new instances derived

from existing datasets for the VRP in [35]. The Eilon-based

datasets all involve smaller numbers of customers than the

one in [81], but a planning horizon of up to 10 days and

involving up to six vehicles. Their tests with the 126 customer

Russell and Igo dataset yielded improved solution values with

both of their solution approaches. In general, they find the

TSP-based simplification to be the most successful heuristic.

Nearly 20 years later, Baptista et al. [11] modify this approach

to address their own waste collection problem, a testament to

the influence that [19] had on subsequent efforts to address

PVRP and related problems.

Tan and Beasley [87] and Russell and Gribbin [82] both

utilize information provided by solutions to an IP formulation of the problem to guide solution development. Tan and

Beasley [87] solve a seed-based IP (see [40]) to assign customers to delivery days. The authors then utilize the approach

outlined in [19] to create daily routes over the planning

horizon. Russell and Gribbin [82] extend this approach by

considering additional local improvement heuristics. Both

Tan and Beasley [87] and Russell and Gribbin [82] test their

results on the ten instances provided in [19] and improve on

the results presented there. Russell and Gribbin [82] also consider the instance presented in [81] and present two additional

instances, one based on data in [27].

The next substantial improvement to the best-known solutions for this set of 13 instances appeared in Chao et al. [18].

In particular, [18] aimed to enhance previous heuristics by

providing a means of escaping local optima. An initial solution is generated by solving a linear program that seeks to

level the number of customer deliveries across the planning

horizon. This linear programming solution is then rounded

to create an initial integer solution. Local improvements, in

part based on record-to-record improvement (see [62]), are

then sought on the current solution. To allow for more flexibility in these local moves, vehicle capacity is relaxed to

allow for moves that would otherwise be infeasible. Solutions

are then post processed to remedy any resulting infeasibilities (Pourghaderi et al. [73] later implement a similar

capacity relaxation). This approach led to improved bestknown solutions for all thirteen instances introduced by [19]

(Instances 110), [81] (Instance 11), and [82] (Instances

1213). Additionally, Chao et al. [18] introduced 19 new

instances (Instances 14-32) that, together with the previous

13, became the canonical set of instances against which all

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collectively known as the old data set. Table 3 shows the

instances in this data set, and how the best-known value for

each of these instances changed over time as researchers

explored solution approaches for PVRP and applied them

to these instances. Data values included in the table reflect

attainment of a new best-known value at the time of publication. Since publications report values with varying levels of

precision, presentation, and comparison here ignore anything

beyond one decimal place.

4.2. Metaheuristics

4.2.1. Tabu Search. One of the most influential solution

approaches for the PVRPprimarily because of the degree

to which it has been modified for a variety of applications and extensions of the PVRPappeared in [30]. The

authors present the first tabu search algorithm designed to

solve PVRP and two of its special cases: the PTSP and

the MDVRP. The heuristic begins by randomly assigning

customers to combinations of delivery days. Considering customers according to some ordering, each customer is then

assigned a route on each of its assigned delivery days using

insertion heuristics to determine how the customer should

be routed. Neighborhood moves are made by either moving

a customer to a new route on one of its assigned delivery days, or by changing the combination of delivery days

for a customer and reinserting them into appropriate new

routes. If a customer is removed from a route on a given day,

tabu search prevents this customer from being reinserted on

that route for a specified number of moves. Their implementation allows for infeasible solutions, which are then

discouraged via penalty terms in the objective function. The

penalty function also helps to diversify the search by discouraging solution attributes that are seen frequently in the

course of the search. The authors note that their tabu search

implementation requires fewer user-controlled parameters (a

number of which are used to control the penalty function)

than other implementations of tabu search, making it easier

to use. They test a number of parameter settings, and on the

old data set, they produced new best solutions on the majority of the 32 instances. Cordeau et al. [30] also introduced

10 new instances collectively known as the new data

set. Although these are often used for comparison in subsequent publications, they are not as frequently solved as the

instances in the old data set.

Cordeau et al. [30] inspired a host of similar techniques, with many authors seeking to modify the tabu

search approach to address related problems and applications. Cordeau et al. [29] modify tabu search to address

PVRPTW, Angelelli and Speranza [7] adapt tabu search to

incorporate intermediate facilities (PVRPIF), and Alonso

et al. [5] incorporate multiple trips per vehicle along with

accessibility constraints. Banerjea-Brodeur [10] apply it to

optimize laundry delivery within a hospital, and Parthanadee

and Logendran [69] apply it to MDPVRP in a food service delivery setting. Francis et al. [44] define metrics that

TABLE 3.

Best-known values for the Old data set produced over time.

quantify the operational flexibility of a solution and the operational complexity and then modify tabu search to account

for these characteristics. They also modify potential neighborhood moves so that moving a customer from one delivery

schedule to another is contingent upon one of its geographical

neighbors also being assigned to the same schedule. Cordeau

and Maischberger [28] increase the computational power of

the algorithm by alternating local search moves with diversification moves to escape local optima and by parallelizing

the algorithm.

4.2.2. Variable Neighborhood Search. The most significant improvement in best-known solutions since those of

Cordeau et al. [30] was produced by the variable neigborhood

search (VNS) technique of Hemmelmayr et al. [57]. VNS

essentially works by performing neighborhood search, but it

changes the neighborhood when local search stagnates. When

local search is unable to improve the current incumbent, VNS

selects the next neighborhood in a series and performs a

shaking step by randomly selecting a solution from this new

neighborhood, and then performing local search. Basic VNS

moves through neighborhoods in the series until an improving

[57] accepts inferior solutions in a manner typical of simulated annealing. It provides improved solutions on most

instances in both the old and new data sets; the authors indicate that those that are not improved are largely de facto

multiple TSP problems. Pirkwieser and Raidl [71] extend

VNS by adding multilevel refinement (essentially abstracting or coarsening the problem to a simpler one), solving the

simplified problem, then refining the solution by extending the simplified solution to the original problem. Pirkwieser

and Raidl [71] claim to produce new best-known solutions

to some of the instances in the canonical data sets, but Pirkwieser and Raidl [71] only provide aggregate data (see also

[70]).

4.2.3. Other Metaheuristics. Perhaps inspired by the successes with tabu search, a number of other metaheuristics

were developed for PVRP. Ochi and Rocha [68] offer an evolutionary approach based on genetic algorithms and local

search, a parallel version of which is presented in [34]

(although they present results for instances in the old data

sets, a number of later references question the accuracy of

NETWORKS2014DOI 10.1002/net

search by increasing the diversity in the gene pool when identifying survivors from the current population of solutions.

They combine this with local improvement to create a hybrid

algorithm that performs well on instances in the data set,

though data are only provided in aggregate form. This work is

extended in [92] to a number of problems with time windows,

including PVRPTW and MDVRPTW.

Matos and Oliveira [63] describe an ant colony optimization (ACO) algorithm for the PVRP. Nodes are replicated to

represent the required number of deliveries, and the authors

use ACO to construct good routes for these nodes. After local

improvement on the resulting solution, graph coloring and

exchanges are used to finalize the periodic assignment. The

authors test their algorithm on some of the largest instances

in the canonical data set but do not report their best results.

Their aim appears to be to compare their algorithm with prior

ACO implementations for routing problems, rather than to

compare with previous algorithms designed specifically for

PVRP.

Goncalves et al. [50] develop a greedy-randomized search

procedure (GRASP) and test it on instances derived from an

oil extraction application. Alegre et al. [2] describe a scatter

search technique designed to address an auto parts application

which has a longer planning horizon. Although this approach

was designed for a certain class of PVRP instances, it is competitive with [30] on the canonical instances and on occasion

outperforms [30].

Gulczynski et al. [52] instigate another paradigm shift by

inverting the typical approach to local search (see also [53]).

Although local search typically aims to search small neighborhoods a large number of times, the approach presented in

[52] searches large neighborhoods a small number of times.

They use mixed-integer programming to schedule customers

in an attempt to evenly spread deliveries across the planning horizon, and solve the resulting VRPs with a Clarke and

Wright algorithm. They then utilize IP to consider simultaneously moving a large number of customers to new days and/or

routes. This IP is alternated with a record-to-record improvement procedure until no substantial improvement is found.

They compare their algorithm to the approaches published

by [30], [18], [57], and [2], implementing these with the

parameter settings suggested by those sources. Although the

approach of [52] outperforms these algorithms under these

recommended settings, it does not produce any new bestknown solutions as compared to the best solutions recorded

in those sources. Gulczynski et al. [52] also provide extensions to the algorithm for handling reassignment constraints

and balance constraints (these are described in Section 5).

4.2.4. Metaheuristics for Problem Variants. Use of

metaheuristics to solve the PVRP has also run parallel to their

use in approaching its variants. Polacek et al. [72] use variable

neighborhood search to solve the PTSP, allowing deviation

from periodicity with a penalty. Yu and Yang [16] describe

an ACO algorithm applied to PVRPTW. Hadjiconstantinou

and Baldacci [54] use tabu search to solve the resulting VRPs

10

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depots and delivery days, while Vahed et al. [89] apply a

path relinking algorithm to MDPVRP. A recent paper by

Lahrichi et al. [60] on integrative cooperative search seeks

to harness the power of the best decomposition and metaheuristic approaches by using several solution methods in

tandem and then sharing the information among them to

improve the solutions produced. They apply their approach

to the MDPVRP, decomposing it into both a set of PVRPs

(by assigning customers to depots) and a set of MDVRPs (by

scheduling customers a priori). They then utilize tabu search

and the techniques of Vidal et al. [91] along with initial solutions to these subproblems to generate good feasible solutions

for the MDPVRP.

4.3. Progress Toward Exact Solutions

Foster and Ryan [41] make one of the earliest attempts to

model the PVRP as a mathematical program. In particular,

they provide a linear programming formulation for the VRP

and discuss modifications to the formulation to incorporate

periodic delivery requirements as well as other extensions.

The linear formulation utilizes variables xj [0, 1] to represent the probability that route j is utilized in an optimal

solution. Thus, the formulation is exponential in size. Foster

and Ryan [41] discuss column generation techniques, noting

that they are slow to converge, as well as relaxations of the

problem that are used to drive heuristic solutions. Results are

only presented for VRP instances.

Christofides and Beasley [19] are often credited as providing the first IP formulation of the PVRP. Altough many

subsequent publications reference that formulation or provide their own, most concede that solving these formulations

becomes prohibitive for larger instances and resort to heuristic or metaheuristic approaches, some in fact based on the

information provided by these IPs. A few researchers, however, have explored mathematical programming approaches

in more depth, particularly because of their flexibility in

handling extensions and variations of the problem.

Francis et al. [43] extend the IP formulation presented in

[39] for VRP to accommodate service choice, which generalizes the definition of periodicity in PVRP and will be

discussed further in Section 5. They first relax the problem by separating the decisions which schedule customers

from those that create routes, creating two different problem relaxations. They then use subgradient optimization on a

Lagrangian function which incorporates both of these relaxations to develop lower bounds on the solution. At the end

of the Lagrangian phase, with the use of feasible solutions

constructed along the way, a branch and bound procedure is

used to close the gap between the upper and lower bounds.

They apply this approach to two interlibrary loan examples

from a related application, as well as to one of the instances

from the old data set modified to include service choice in

the objective.

Francis and Smilowitz [42] present a continuous approximation of the formulation presented in [43] by aggregating

continuous functions. By utilizing decomposition methods,

the continuous approximation can be solved quickly, allowing it to be useful for larger problems. Francis and Smilowitz

[42] state that this approach is not intended to replace discrete approaches. Rather, it is intended to provide quick

solutions that can be used to guide design decisions. Francis

and Smilowitz [42] apply this approach to a 100-customer

instance from the old data set. Although they do not produce

a new best-known value, their approach is competitive.

Mourgaya and Vanderbeck [66] develop a model designed

to simultaneously address two objective criteria: balance

of the workload across trucks, and regionalization (creating routes that keep vehicles/drivers in familiar areas). The

authors then use a DantzigWolfe reformulation and column

generation to solve the relaxed problem. Insertion heuristics

are used to price out columns, with an eye toward balancing the two objectives under consideration. On completion

of the LP solution phase, the resulting solution is rounded

to produce a feasible solution to the PVRP by heuristically

exploring the branch and bound tree. Mourgaya and Vanderbeck [66] test this approach on some of the instances

from [30]. Although this approach does not produce routes

with smaller overall cost, it is competitive with the approach

of [30] when workload balancing and regionalization are

considered.

Baldacci et al. [9] have arguably demonstrated the greatest success with exact approaches for PVRP. They present a

new IP for the problem and three relaxations based on this

formulation that are used to generate strong lower bounds for

the problem. They then use these lower bounds, along with

information from a related dual solution, to reduce the solution space in such a way that no optimal integer solutions are

eliminated, resulting in a tractable IP. This IP is then solved

exactly. They report both solutions and lower bounds for the

old canonical instances. The lower bounds produced are on

average within 1% of optimality, best-known values are produced for five instances, and the best known at the time of

publication of [9] is matched for the majority of the remaining

instances.

Kang et al. [59] present an IP formulation and an exact

solution approach for MDPVRP. They assume, however, that

each vehicle can service at most one customer per day, thus

the routing component of the problem is completely removed.

Many variants of the PVRP have been studied. Here, we

will discuss some of the variants beyond the PTSP, PVRPTW,

and MDPVRP.

Intermediate facilities provide a location other than the

depot for a truck to renew its capacity. For example, if a

truck is collecting goods, such as in waste collection, an

intermediate facility would be a place for a truck to unload,

such as at a waste treatment plant, before resuming pickup

at other customers. The first paper on the PVRP-IF is by

Angelelli and Speranza [7]. Even with intermediate facilities, the objective they consider is still the minimization of

the total length of the routes. The authors propose a tabu

search approach. The discussion of the application of the

PVRP for collection of slaughterhouse waste in [26] also

involves intermediate facilities for disposal of waste due to

the use of small capacity vehicles. Hemmelmayr et al. [56]

consider the PVRP-IF as well, offering an exact formulation

and proposing a solution method based on variable neighborhood search and dynamic programming. The authors also

consider variants of the PVRP-IF where capacity limits are

placed on the intermediate facilities.

Another related problem with a location component is

the periodic location-routing problem (PLRP). The PLRP

requires decisions about which depots to open, in addition

to the routing and assignment decisions typically made in

the MDPVRP. The motivation for this change in formulation is the impact that the location of the depots can have

on the routing costs. The PLRP was introduced by Prodhon

with a memetic algorithm offered in [76] and a hybridized

evolutionary algorithm described in [74] and [75]. The use

of variable neighborhood search for the PLRP is studied in

[70].

Variants that introduce new constraints include the PVRP

with reassignment constraints (PVRP-RC) introduced in

[52]. Companies often have existing routes, and they are solving for new routes because of the addition of new customers.

They want to minimize the change in service to the existing

customers. PVRP-RC limits the number of customers who

are moved from an existing service pattern to another service

pattern. Rademeyer [77] examines the assignment routing

problem with nominated delivery days (ARPNDD) in which

customers are assigned to a delivery group and must remain

in that delivery group for the entire planning period. Alonso

et al. [5] consider a variation of the PVRP where vehicles can

make multiple trips per day and include limitations on which

vehicles can be assigned to which customers. Parthanadee

and Logendran [69] add limitations to the capacity of the

depots in the MDPVRP. The authors also deal with customer

demand for multiple products, fixed supply at the depot of

each of these products, and scheduled replenishments of the

products to the depot. The capacity limitations can potentially cause customers to receive deliveries of certain products

from different depots. In the MDPVRP in [64], constraints

on which resources can be matched with which customers, as

well as resource-dependent work hour restrictions, are also

included.

An important category of variants is those which change

the objective function, possibly in conjunction with constraints. Most of the solution approaches described so far seek

to minimize total route cost or some related metric, but some

consider very different objectives. Gaudioso and Paletta [45]

present a heuristic designed to minimize the fleet size. Vahed

et al. [90] present a heuristic designed to minimize fleet size

subject to a maximum route duration. In [17], the authors

try to identify the minimum number of vehicles required to

serve customers with periodic delivery requirements under

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11

the assumption that all customers receive full truck shipments. They refer to this as the vehicle minimization for

periodic deliveries problem (VMPD). Related is the work

by Delgado et al. [32] where the authors look at minimizing

the labor requirements associated with the periodic supply of

products to customers from a warehouse. When a customer

comes to the warehouse to pick up product, labor is required

at the warehouse to load the vehicles. The number of customers who arrive at the same time affects the amount of

labor required. Thus, the pickup day for each customer must

be determined along with the timing of the pickup so as to

minimize the amount of labor needed.

Some authors change the objective to be one of maximization of profits rather than minimization of costs. As

mentioned in section 3, Goncalves et al. [50] model how

to extract oil from wells in Brazil using mobile units. Each

well has a minimum time between visits to collect a reasonable quantity. Their objective is to maximize the amount of

oil extracted which impacts which customers are visited and

when. They refer to this variant as the period bump mobile

units routing problem. Baptista et al. [11] also focus on a

profit maximization objective.

Other changes to the objective include the addition of

other costs besides travel costs. Gulczynski et al. [52] propose the PVRP with balance constraints, but balance is

actually modeled in the objective. Imbalance is defined by

the difference between the largest number of customers on

a route and the smallest number of customers on a route

in the solution. The objective becomes the total travel cost

plus a penalty cost for imbalance to encourage workloads

among drivers to be similar. The PVRP with service choice

is introduced in [43] and [42]. In this problem, the delivery frequency for customers is chosen by the model. Each

customer has a minimum delivery frequency but higher frequencies, which translate to better service, are rewarded in

the objective function. A multiobjective PVRPTW is considered in [3] to reflect a competitive situation. In a competitive

environment, the arrival time at a customer relative to the

arrival time by a competitor may impact the amount sold

to the customer. Thus, they consider an objective that minimizes travel costs and maximizes sales, as well as balances

the amount of goods distributed by the different vehicles. A

multiobjective PVRP is also considered in [86] but with more

of a focus on workforce management. Their objective considers factors such as consistency of assigning the same driver to

serve customers, as well as mileage costs, and they examine

the tradeoffs. The variant of the PVRPTW in [14] includes

overtime costs, costs for violating time windows, and costs

for idle time, in addition to travel costs.

Some papers consider problems with more flexibility than

the traditional PVRP. For example, in [24], a single vehicle is

not required to serve all of the demand at a customer, and in

[23], customers may be visited by more than one vehicle on

different routes. Danandeh et al. [31] look at the open PVRP

where vehicles are not required to return to the depot at the

end of the day. Mourgaya and Vanderbeck [66] focus strictly

on the assignment of customers to days for delivery subject to

12

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focus is more on balancing the quantity collected than on minimizing route costs or fleet size. Francis et al. [43] precisely

examine the value of flexibility in periodic routing problems. Besides service choice, they also examine the impact of

restricting a customer to be served by one driver versus multiple drivers, the impact of a greater number of scheduling

options, and the impact of flexibility in the delivery quantity

to customers, while restricting that all demand is eventually

served. They also examine these tradeoffs computationally.

Patrolling and data gathering has created several extensions of the PVRP. As mentioned in section 3, Giger [48]

examines planning tools for use with unmanned underwater

vehicles. Since vehicles have sensors that perform different

kinds of readings, visits by multiple vehicles to the same location may be required to collect the needed data. This makes

the problem more challenging. Almiani et al. [4] consider

the routing of mobile gateways to collect sensor data as well.

They introduce the periodic mobile multigateway scheduling

problem. Unlike the PVRP, the frequency for visiting each

customer is determined as part of the problem solution due

to constraints on information gathering needs. Fargeas et al.

[38] study the persistent visitation problem, where the goal is

to determine the rates at which customers should be patrolled,

rather than to assign specific days, and is subject to limitations

on the fuel available in the patrolling vehicles.

Very little work on the periodic routing problem specifically addresses the stochasticity that can occur in practice.

One of the few exceptions is [83] who study the periodic routing problem with stochastic demands (SPRP). They consider

the stochasticity of customer demands in the determination of

visit frequencies and delivery quantities. The differentiation

with the IRP is that inventory costs and customer capacities

are not considered.

Related is the area of periodic arc routing problems. In

periodic arc routing problems, as discussed in [47], each

required edge of a graph must be visited a given number

of times over a specified planning period. They often arise in

residential waste collecting and street sweeping applications.

Chu et al. [2022], Groves et al. [51], and Mei et al. [65] also

consider the periodic arc routing problem.

6. FUTURE DIRECTIONS

As this review has indicated, the body of work on the

PVRP is extensive. It has been applied in a diverse array of

contexts and has been solved with a wide variety of solution

methods. With the increasing use of recycling, home healthcare, and remote sensors, we expect that the countries and the

contexts in which the PVRP can be applied will continue to

grow. Recent trends indicate that study of the problem is shifting more toward its variants, as many growing applications

require changes to the classic PVRP, and solution methods

must be developed that deal explicitly with these additional

constraints or alternate objectives. The number of papers

on multiobjective versions of the PVRP reflects the growing importance of considering many cost factors beyond just

that more complex objectives and more operational flexibility

will be a growing trend in the PVRP literature. Surprisingly,

our review found little work on variants of the problem that

explicitly address the stochasticity of customer demand or

travel times. We see this as another area rich in possibilities

for further study.

[14]

[15]

[16]

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Ning Zhou for her

assistance with the bibliography.

[17]

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