A hybrid tabu search based heuristic for the periodic distribution inventory problem with perishable goods

Ali Diabat*, Tarek Abdallah, Tung Le

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Most of the research on integrated inventory and routing problems ignores the case when products are perishable. However, considering the integrated problem with perishable goods is crucial since any discrepancy between the routing and inventory cost can double down the risk of higher obsolescence costs due to the limited shelf-life of the products. In this paper, we consider a distribution problem involving a depot, a set of customers and a homogeneous fleet of capacitated vehicles. Perishable goods are transported from the depot to customers in such a way that out-of-stock situations never occur. The objective is to simultaneously determine the inventory and routing decisions over a given time horizon such that total transportation cost is minimized. We present a new “arc-based formulation” for the problem which is deemed more suitable for our new tabu search based approach for solving the problem. We perform a thorough sensitivity analysis for each of the tabu search parameters individually and use the obtained gaps to fine-tune the parameter values that are used in solving larger sized instances of the problem. We solve different sizes of randomly generated instances and compare the results obtained using the tabu search algorithm to those obtained by solving the problem using CPLEX and a recently published column generation algorithm. Our computational experiments demonstrate that the tabu search algorithm is capable of obtaining a near-optimal solution in less computational time than the time required to solve the problem to optimality using CPLEX, and outperforms the column generation algorithm for solving the “path flow formulation” of the problem in terms of solution quality in almost all of the considered instances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-398
Number of pages26
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Integer programming
  • Inventory-routing
  • Perishable goods
  • Tabu search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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