A Heuristic Method for Routing Snowplows After Snowfall

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Matematiska institutionen; Linköpings universitet/Matematiska institutionen


Sweden experiences heavy snowfall during the winter season and cost effective road maintenance is significantly affected by the routing of snowplows. The routing problem becomes more complex as the SwedishNational Road Administration (Vägverket) sets operational requirements such as satisfying a time window for each road segment.

This thesis focuses on route optimization for snowplows after snowfall; to develop and implement an algorithm for finding combinations of generated routes which minimize the total cost. The results are compared to those stated in the licentiate thesis by Doctoral student Nima Golbaharan (2001).

The algorithm calculates a lower bound to the problem using a Lagrangian master problem. A common subgradient approach is used to find near-optimal dual variables to be sent to a column-generation program which returns routes for the snowplows. A greedy heuristic chooses a feasible solution, which gives an upper bound to the problem. This entire process is repeated as needed.

This method for routing snowplows produces favorable results with a relatively small number of routes and are comparable to Golbaharan's results. An interesting observation involves the allocation of vehicles in which certain depots were regularly over- or under-utilized. This suggests that the quantity and/or distribution of available vehicles may not be optimal.

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