This paper introduces the Flexible Periodic Vehicle Routing Problem (FPVRP) where a carrier has to establish a distribution plan to serve his customers over a planning horizon. Each customer has a total demand that must be served within the horizon and a limit on the maximum quantity that can be delivered at each visit. A fleet of homogeneous capacitated vehicles is available to perform the services and the objective is to minimize the total routing cost. The FPVRP can be seen as a generalization of the Periodic Vehicle Routing Problem (PVRP) which instead has fixed service frequencies and schedules and where the quantity delivered at each visit is fixed. Moreover, the FPVRP shares some common characteristics with the Inventory Routing Problem (IRP) where inventory levels are considered at each time period and, typically, an inventory cost is involved in the objective function. We present a worst-case analysis which shows the advantages of the FPVRP with respect to both PVRP and IRP. Moreover, we propose a mathematical formulation for the problem, together with some valid inequalities. Computational results show that adding flexibility improves meaningfully the routing costs in comparison with both PVRP and IRP. Link to the article
ARCHETTI, C., FERNÁNDEZ, E. and HUERTA-MUÑOZ, D.L. (2017). The Flexible Periodic Vehicle Routing Problem. Computers & Operations Research, 85, pp. 58-70.