Solution of real-world postman problems
The paper presents the results of a study performed by the Deutsche post endowed chair of optimization of distribution networks in collaboration with Deutsche Post World Net with the aim of improving the planning of letter mail delivery. Modelling and solution methods for real-world postman problems are presented which extend one of the most general postman problems studied in the literature, the windy rural postman problem, with regard to several aspects. The discussed extensions include turn and street crossing restrictions, cluster constraints, the option to have alternative service modes (including 'zigzag deliveries'), and the use of public transport to reach the postal district. The solution method is based on a transformation to the asymmetric TSP and uses non-standard neighbourhood search techniques. Extensive computational experiments show that the solution method clearly and consistently outperforms standard TSP heuristics on real-world instances.
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