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Balancing

Timur Keskinturk

Istanbul University

Avcilar Yerleskesi, Bogazici Cad.

Istanbul, 34320 TURKEY

tkturk@istanbul.edu.tr

Wichita State University

1845 N Fairmount St.

Wichita, KS, 67260-0035 USA

Bayram.yildirim@wichita.edu

bakery company in Istanbul, Turkey. The bakery wants to

distribute products with the available fleets of trucks, while

maintaining balance in workload between different truck drivers.

The resulting problem is very similar to a capacitated vehicle

routing problem with load balancing objective with a maximum

distribution time and truck capacity constraints. A genetic

algorithm meta-heuristic approach is proposed to obtain good

quality solutions. The proposed meta-heuristic is utilized on a

case study where different trucks serve customers in a large

metropolitan area. The distance matrix is generated via a web

application using Google Maps. The solutions obtained via the

meta-heuristic are compared with the companys own

distribution plan and global ant colony optimization algorithm.

inadequate and inflexible, heuristics are commonly used. In

this paper, to solve the proposed model, we utilize a genetic

algorithm with local search to obtain good results in

reasonable amount of time. For discussions on VRP, we refer

the reader to Toth and Vigo [3] and Ralphs et al. [4].

Workload balancing on similar resources is a well-studied

problem. For example, in a manufacturing setting Duman et al.

[5] show that a balanced load in parallel resources may

improve the flexibility and deficiency of the production line.

Assigning tasks to workers in an office or shop floor is another

viable example. To maintain the morale of the workforce, it is

of utmost important to keep the assignment of jobs to

employees working in the same area as equally balanced as

possible (i.e., assign approximately equal workload) to

minimize tension on the office or shop floor, or in this case,

between the truck drivers. In vehicle routing problems, to

minimize disparities and achieve fairness between drivers,

workload balancing objectives have been introduced. In a

vehicle routing problem, workload for a driver on a tour can be

defined in terms of the length of the tour, volume transported

during a period [6] duration of the tour (which may include

loading and unloading operations [7], [8], or as a number of

customers whom needs to be visited. The objective may be

minimization of the sum of the dierences between the

workload of each tour and the smallest workload [8] or the

dierence between the workload of the longest tour and the one

of the shortest tour [7], [9], [10].

capacity constraints, Bakery Distribution, metaheuristics, genetic

algorithm

I.

INTRODUCTION

distribution planning problem at a bakery in Istanbul Turkey

with a load balancing objective [1]. The bakery owns a fleet of

trucks which are used in distribution of fresh perishable bakery

products. The trucks loaded with fresh bakery products may

visit several grocery stores, markets and restaurants on a tour to

satisfy the customer demand and return back to the bakery

three times a day. Currently, the bakery has partitioned the

demand by regions, and serves each region via a truck. We

model this problem as a capacitated vehicle routing problem

with load balancing objective and maximum tour length. Our

goal is to propose a framework to improve the current

distribution plan by the bakery management by minimizing the

imbalance between the workloads of drivers.

consists of designing a set of delivery or collection routes such

that: 1) Each route starts and ends at the depot, 2) each service

request is visited exactly once by exactly one vehicle, 3) the

total demand of each route does not exceed the capacity of a

truck; 4) the total duration of each route (including travel and

service times) does not exceed a preset limit due to

perishability of bakery products; and 5) the total workload

imbalance is minimized.

combinatorial optimization problem and only relatively small

instances can be solved to optimality. Exact algorithms are

only capable of solving small instances with the amount of

customers typically being less than 50. This is because the

lower bounds of the objective value are difficult to derive, so

partial enumerations based on exact algorithms have a slow

assumptions, parameters and the model for the VRP problem

287

meta-heuristic to solve VRPLB is described. After results

computational experimentation on a case study, conclusions are

presented in section 5.

x ijk d y ik

be before/after another demand point on a vehicles tour.

(6)

x d y

k K, j J

PROBLEM STATEMENT

II.

(5)

i J,k Ki, j Jk

ijk

ik

i J k

utilized: K is the set of vehicles, and |K| denotes the number of

vehicles. Similarly, J is the set of demand points. Kj is the

subset of vehicles which may serve demand at j, and Jk is the

subset of demand points which can be served by vehicle k.

Sijk is the distance (duration) for vehicle k if demand point i

precedes j on vehicle ks tour. pik is the amount of time

required to load/unload the demand at i by if vehicle k is

utilized.

x ijk d y ik

(7)

k K ,i Jk

j J k

which ensure that a demand point cannot be the immediate

predecessor or successor of two or more different demand

points at the same time on a vehicles tour.

'

'

(8)

x d| J | 1

J J

'

ijk

'

i J k j J k

by vehicle k as Qk.

(9)

d y dQ ,

kK

completion time of jobs on all vehicles, i.e.,

C m ax

and the maximum completion time on all machines, i.e.,

C m ax C k

C m ax

m ax

kK

C m ax

Note that any solution with a zero ARPI value is optimal. The

VRPLB model has an exponential number of possible

solutions and is a very difficult problem to solve. This

motivated us to develop a genetic algorithm to determine good

solutions in a reasonable amount of time.

100

III.

C k is defined as

Ck

y ik p ik

i J

x ijk s ijk

kK

(2)

i J k j J k

otherw ise

and

x ijk

meta-heuristic that mimic the process of evolution in order to

solve complex combinatorial problems), have been applied

successfully to vehicle routing problems. Genetic Algorithms

(GAs) updates a population of solutions via genetic operators

such as crossover, mutation and selection to achieve offsprings

with better quality until some convergence criteria are met. At

each generation, a genetic algorithm is capable of producing

and maintaining a set of feasible solutions, maintaining a

population of candidate solutions, and evaluating the quality

of each candidate solution according to the problem-specific

fitness function. The pseudo-code of the genetic algorithm is

presented in Fig.1. The components of the proposed genetic

algorithm are explained in detail below:

where

y ik

percentage imbalance for a vehicle routing problem with

heterogeneous fleet where the goal is to minimize the average

relative percentage of imbalance (ARPI).

(1)

1

C

C

m in

ik

limit on the total length of a tour by vehicle k (Tk) is imposed

by the following constraint:

(10)

C d Tk

kK

m ax k K C k .

relative im balance k =

i J

otherw ise

than or equivalent to individual workloads.

(3)

C m ax t C k

kK

algorithm is represented as a super chromosome having the size

of the number of customers (|J|). This chromosome has subchromosomes that represent the sequence of visits to customers

on a tour for each vehicle (see Figure 2 for a chromosome that

represents ten costumers and three vehicles). The customers

which will be served by the first vehicle are listed in the

scheduled order on a tour is listed first on the super

vehicle.

(4)

i J

y 1

ik

kKi

same vehicles tour can precede each other.

288

vehicle 3. In another array of size of the number of vehicles

(|K|), information on the number of customers scheduled for

each vehicle is kept.

another position on the chromosome, with a probability equal

to the mutation probability, Pm. If the new position is in the

same vehicle, then only the customers order is changed.

However, if the gene is moved to another vehicle, the number

of customers and order of customers on both vehicles may

change.

Genetic Algorithm

STEP 0: Generate an initial population

STEP 1: Evaluate the fitness value of the

chromosomes

STEP 2: Perform selection operation and give those

individual that have better fitness values a

more chance to survive in the next generation.

STEP 3: Perform crossover and mutation operations.

Apply Feasibility Check for each new

offspring.

STEP 4: Perform local search (optional)

STEP 5: Repeat steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 until the GA is

run for the predetermined number of

generation

STEP 5: Select the best chromosome.

mutation or crossover operation, the feasibility should be

checked. If not feasible, i.e., at least one of the trucks tour

violate the total capacity of a vehicle, apply the following one

pass heuristic possibly to obtain a feasible solution: if the total

demand/duration for vehicle k is more than its capacity/max

tour length, include all customers on the tour that the vehicle

capacity/tour length can handle. Move those who cannot be

handled to the next vehicle, k+1.

Local Search (optional): A 2-exchange heuristic, a first

improvement local search, is utilized to switch positions of two

customers on a chromosome (i.e., either in the same vehicle or

on different vehicles). Apply feasibility check. If the exchange

improves the current solution, it is kept. At each iteration, |J|2

number of exchanges is performed.

Vehicle 1

Customers

Vehicle 2

1

10

Vehicle 3

7

local search (GA*) are utilized to solve the problem.

example

IV.

vehicles are used to deliver fresh bakery products three times a

day. Each truck has a capacity of 6000 units, and can deliver

to all customer locations. It is assumed that the demand for

each customer is known through historical data, and each

customer can be served by any vehicle. Furthermore, it is

assumed that it takes the same amount of time to load/unload

at each demand point. The locations of each customer are

marked on the map in Figure 3 (Google Inc.[14]). The

distances and duration times between each customer are

calculated using Google Maps. These distances were verified

by the bakery management team and the drivers of the trucks

[1].

chromosome : is the objective function value, (ARPI) of

solution : while severely penalizing the infeasibilities in the

capacity and maximum trip length constraints (equations 9 and

10):

(11)

f (AR PI: )

ARPI e

m in 0 , Q k d i y ik m in 0 , C k Tk

kK

i J

COMPUTATIONAL EXPERIMENTATION

of the fittest. In this paper, the roulette wheel system is used to

select parents for the next generation [13].

Dual Core Machine with 4 GB of memory and 120 GB of hard

drive using MATLAB R2007b as the programming medium to

code develop the meta-heuristics. The value of performance

measures is obtained by averaging the results over 10 runs of

1000 iterations for 10.

Through experimentation, the

crossover and mutation probability and a population size is

determined as 0.9, 0.01, and 40, respectively. The

computational results are presented in Table 1.

crossover operation is applied with a probability of Pc to

generate two new offspring solutions: Two parent strings are

selected randomly from the population. A random number

between 2 to |J|-1 is generated to determine the crossover

point. When crossover is finished, the genes before the

crossover point in the first chromosome are the first part of the

first child chromosome. The second part of the first child

chromosome is generated by checking the genes from the

second chromosome one by one and adding those genes that

are not yet in the child chromosome. Similarly, the 2nd child

chromosome is generated. Note that the number of demand

points for each vehicle is kept constant.

company, and also by a global ant colony optimization

algorithm (GACO) to solve the vehicle routing problem

without any side constraints by Keskinturk [1]. The GACO,

289

8%, so an improvement of 50% is ARPI values. As can been

seen in figure 4, when the maximum allowable tour length

increases, the ARPI decreases. However, this also results in

longer tour lengths and durations. The GACO which provides

the solution with the shortest tour length (since its aim is to

minimize the total tour length, but not minimization of ARPI,

and does not have any capacity constraint as well as total tour

length constraint) has the worst ARPI value. With some

modifications in the length of the tour, a more balanced

GACO algorithm which determines the minimum length

distribution plan has a total tour length of 342 minutes while

having an ARPI value of 41% By increasing the total

distribution time by 25% (i.e., 80 minutes), the ARPI value

can be decreased to 9%.

population based ant colony optimization meta-heuristic, was

developed to solve the lot sizing problems [1]. To avoid local

minimums, GACO utilizes an operator similar to mutation

operators in genetic, by mutating the routes of the ants to

obtain new potential solutions. When applied to VRP

problems, computational experimentation proved the

effectiveness of GACO algorithm over classical metaheuristics such as variants of ant colony optimization

algorithms and genetic algorithms [1].

Figure 4. ARPI as a function of tour travel time constraint

and 120 minutes for most of the vehicles. However, it was

observed that regardless of the objective function, the trucks

serving customers located in the northwest quadrant could not

be served in less than 120 minutes when there is meaningful

workload for that vehicle, so the minimum tour length for that

vehicle was kept constant at 120 minutes.

V.

CONCLUSION

balancing objective and maximum tour length constraint is

proposed. A genetic algorithm with local search is developed.

The solution framework is applied on a real life case study

from a bakery. It was observed that the genetic algorithm with

local search outperformed the solutions obtained from the one

without local search, and the companys solution.

Furthermore, it was observed that when the maximum tour

length constraint is relaxed, better ARPI values are obtained.

However, the tour lengths increase. As a future research, one

can try to develop a solution algorithm for a multi-objective

capacitated VRP problem with load balancing and total tour

length objectives.

and GACO is the ARPI values for VRP problem without

capacity and tour lengths obtained with GACO algorithm,

unconstrained column represents the ARPI values for the VRP

problem with load balancing objective, however, without tour

length constraint. For all solutions, the tour length for each

vehicle is listed in Table 1. Note that the ARPI values for firm

and GACO algorithm are significantly higher than solutions

for which load balancing was the objective. If no tour duration

contraint is imposed, one can obtain perfect ARPI values with

an objective function value of 0.01.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This paper was partially supported by the Istanbul University.

Research Foundation Project (BAP) No: 10625.

search (GA*) outperforms other solutions. The companys

290

TABLE I.

GA (minutes)

FIRM

GACO

Unconstrained

Vehicle 1

87.00

52.00

Vehicle 2

55.00

102

108

114

120

102

108

114

120

476.70

101.62

107.97

113.94

119.88

101.94

107.03

114.00

119.88

86.00

476.58

101.84

107.84

113.94

119.88

102.06

107.99

114.00

119.88

118.00

73.00

476.70

101.89

107.28

113.64

119.88

101.88

107.95

114.00

119.76

121.00

141.00

476.70

116.29

118.54

118.14

119.88

113.82

117.12

116.64

119.88

ARPI

16.01

41.25

0.01

9.36

6.86

2.71

0.00

7.81

6.06

1.71

0.03

Total Delivery

Duration

381.00

342.00

1906.68

421.64

441.63

459.66

479.52

419.70

440.08

458.64

479.40

Vehicle 3

Vehicle 4

[8]

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