A fast two-level variable neighborhood search for the clustered vehicle routing problem

Christof Defryn*, Kenneth Sorensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this paper, we present an improved two-level heuristic to solve the clustered vehicle routing problem (cluvrp). The cluvrp is a generalization of the classical capacitated vehicle routing problem (cvrp) in which customers are grouped into predefined clusters, and all customers in a cluster must be served consecutively by the same vehicle. This paper contributes to the literature in the following ways: (i) new upper bounds are presented for multiple benchmark instances, (ii) good heuristic solutions are provided in much smaller computing times than existing approaches, (iii) the cluvrp is reduced to its cluster level without assuming euclidean coordinates or distances, and (iv) a new variant of the cluvrp, the cluvrpwith weak cluster constraints, is introduced. In this variant, clusters are allocated to vehicles in their entirety, but all corresponding customers can be visited by the vehicle in any order.the proposed heuristic solves the cluvrp by combining two variable neighborhood search algorithms, that explore the solution space at the cluster level and the individual customer level respectively. The algorithm is tested on different benchmark instances from the literature with up to 484 nodes, obtaining high quality solutions while requiring only a limited calculation time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-94
JournalComputers & Operations Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Clustered vehicle routing problem
  • Variable neighborhood search
  • Metaheuristic


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