Last-mile distribution planning for fruit-and-vegetable cold chains

Yu Hsiang Hsiao*, Mu-Chen Chen, Kuan Yu Lu, Cheng Lin Chin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to formulate and solve a last-mile distribution plan problem with concern for the quality of fruits and vegetables in cold chains. Design/methodology/approach: The vehicle routing problem with time windows (VRPTW) is extended based on the characteristics of fruit-and-vegetable cold chains. The properties of multiple perishable foods, continuing decline in quality, various requirements for quality levels and optimal temperature settings during vehicle transportation are considered in the VRPTW. The product quality level is defined by the estimation of residual shelf life, which changes with temperature, and is characterized by a stepped decrease during the transportation process as time goes on. A genetic algorithm (GA) is adapted to solve the problem because of its convincing ability to solve VRPTW-related problems. For this purpose, solution encoding, a fitness function and evolution operators are designed to deal with the complicated problem herein. Findings: A distribution plan including required fleet size, vehicle routing sequence and what quality level should be shipped out to account for the quality degradation during vehicle transportation is generated. The results indicate that the fulfillment of various requirements of different customers for various fruits and vegetables and quality levels can be ensured with cost considerations. Originality/value: This study presents a problem for last-mile delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables which considers multiple practical scenarios not studied previously. A solution algorithm based on a GA is developed to address this problem. The proposed model is easily applied to other types of perishable products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-886
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Logistics Management
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Asia
  • Cold chain
  • Genetic algorithm
  • Last-mile distribution
  • Mixed method
  • Quality deterioration
  • Shelf life
  • Vehicle routing problem

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