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I'm trying to solve a Vehicle Routing Problem using the optimization tool, however all the materials I've found on the tool seem to have a prerequisite knowledge of math and mathematical notation that I seriously lack. I have created a solution for my problem already by using an iterative macro. It works fine, but I am concerned that my solution is not optimal. This is where the Optimization Tool comes into play.
Here's a summary of the problem I am trying to solve, I'm hoping that someone who's had some experience with the optimization tool might be able to assist me in configuring the tool
Problem: I have X number of drivers that need to deliver to Y number of households, some drivers are able to deliver to 4 houses in a route but most can only make 2 stops. All drivers need to receive a route. Additionally, some drivers have preferred districts they wish to deliver to and those deliveries must be prioritized even if it results in a longer than average route. Finally, some stops have many items to be delivered (based on household size) and require a driver with a larger vehicle.
All drivers have a common origin location, but each will have a different home location that they will return to after they have completed their route. I have calculated the distance between each stop and the driver's home location. I've also set up Boolean fields to indicate if there's a district match and vehicle-size-to-household-size match.
This is a voluntary project I've taken on, and each driver is a volunteer so I'd like to really optimize their routes so that they'll keep volunteering!
Is your aim to minimise the distance each driver has to drive off course while they are heading from the origin location back to their homes?
A small implication you might face here is that to answer that question accurately you need access to drivetime data, and not all users have access to them. With the distance tool, you can estimate the distance between 2 points as the crow flies, but that will give you a false impression of which destination is nearest.
In order to optimize your route, you need to have an objective function. For instance, this could be to minimize total distance. This objective function will be subject to several constrains: max amount of trips each driver can take (4) etc.
Thanks for your reply Angelos, I'm willing to accept that distance as the crow flies is not the same as driving distance. I still feel that the optimization tool may still produce better, more optimal, results than the iterative macro solution I cooked up. Thus, I'm seeking help on the optimization tool because the set up of the tool isn't very intuitive to me.