A computational comparison of algorithms for the inventory routing problem

M. Dror, M. Ball, B. Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The inventory routing problem is a distribution problem in which each customer maintains a local inventory of a product such as heating oil and consumes a certain amount of that product each day. Each day a fleet of trucks is dispatched over a set of routes to resupply a subset of the customers. In this paper, we describe and compare algorithms for this problem defined over a short planning period, e.g. one week. These algorithms define the set of customers to be serviced each day and produce routes for a fleet of vehicles to service those customers. Two algorithms are compared in detail, one which first allocates deliveries to days and then solves a vehicle routing problem and a second which treats the multi-day problem as a modified vehicle routing problem. The comparison is based on a set of real data obtained from a propane distribution firm in Pennsylvania. The solutions obtained by both procedures compare quite favorably with those in use by the firm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1985


  • Vehicle routing
  • graph algorithms
  • heuristics
  • inventory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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