Optimizing the changing locations of mobile parcel lockers

To reduce congestion, environmental damage, and negative health impact in large urban areas plenty of novel concepts for last-mile distribution have been innovated in recent years. The concept treated in this paper is mobile parcel lockers that are able to change their locations during the day, either autonomously or moved by a human driver.

By relocating lockers, their reach towards addressees also varying their whereabouts over the day can be increased. A paper by Schwerdfeger and Boysen looks at optimizing the changing locations of lockers, such that customers are at some time during the planning horizon within a predefined range of their designated locker. The aim of optimizing these locations is to minimize the locker fleet when satisfying all customers. They formulate the resulting mobile locker location problem and provide suited exact solution procedures.

To asses the potential of whether mobile lockers are a promising last-mile concept, worth the investment required to develop it to a market-ready solution, they benchmark the necessary fleet size of mobile lockers with the required number of their stationary counterparts. Their results show that considerable reductions are possible.

Source: Schwerdfeger, S., & Boysen, N. (2020). Optimizing the changing locations of mobile parcel lockers in last-mile distribution. European Journal of Operational Research.

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