Remote sensing technology is now coming onto the market in the waste collection sector. This technology allows waste and recycling receptacles to report their fill levels at regular intervals. This reporting enables collection schedules to be optimized dynamically to meet true servicing needs in a better way and so reduce transport costs and ensure that visits to clients are made in a timely fashion. This paper describes a real-life logistics problem faced by a leading UK charity that services its textile and book donation banks and its high street stores by using a common fleet of vehicles with various carrying capacities. Use of a common fleet gives rise to a vehicle routing problem in which visits to stores are on fixed days of the week with time window constraints and visits to banks (fitted with remote fill-monitoring technology) are made in a timely fashion so that the banks do not become full before collection. A tabu search algorithm was developed to provide vehicle routes for the next day of operation on the basis of the maximization of profit. A longer look-ahead period was not considered because donation rates to banks are highly variable. The algorithm included parameters that specified the minimum fill level (e.g., 50%) required to allow a visit to a bank and a penalty function used to encourage visits to banks that are becoming full. The results showed that the algorithm significantly reduced visits to banks and increased profit by up to 2.4%, with the best performance obtained when the donation rates were more variable.
McLeod, F., Erdogan, G., Cherrett, T., Bektas, T., Davies, N., Speed, C., Dickinson, J., & Norgate, S. (2013). Dynamic collection scheduling using remote asset monitoring. Transportation Research Record, (2378), 65-72. https://doi.org/10.3141/2378-07