What is Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP)? [Challenges and Solutions]

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Multi-commodity vehicle routing problem

What is Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP)?

Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP) is Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP) is identifying the most effective route to deliver multiple commodities to customers with different demands. It is a problem generally found in logistics and transportation management.

A crucial component of logistics and transportation management is effective vehicle routing. Businesses struggle to optimize their delivery operations due to the complexity of supply chain networks and rising client demands. However, MCVRP helps to address these problems while also ensuring that customers receive their orders of goods on time.

Further, MCVRP also has many practical applications such as logistics, transportation, and supply chain management. Overall, the goal of vehicle routing problems is to minimize the total cost while ensuring that all the demands of the customers are met. 

Key Challenges in Solving the MCVRP

Although MCVRP offers an optimal solution for the efficient routing of vehicles, there are still several challenges to overcome. The primary challenges involve: 

1. Capacity constraints

The total demand for the commodities transported by each vehicle in the fleet must not be greater than this vehicle’s maximum capacity. This restriction complicates the issue since the solution must guarantee that each vehicle carries the proper quantity of each good to satisfy consumer demand while maintaining its carrying capacity.

2. Commodity compatibility

Due to compatibility difficulties, some goods cannot be transported in the same vehicle at the same time. For instance, certain chemicals or foods may interact negatively or require particular storage conditions. To prevent the transportation of incompatible commodities in the same vehicle, the MCVRP solution must consider these restrictions.

3. Travel time

To guarantee that goods are delivered on time, the amount of time needed to travel between locations should be kept to a minimum. This increases the complexity of the issue since the ideal routes for the vehicles to take to get from one customer location to the next must be determined.

4. Vehicle availability

Since there aren’t many vehicles available to serve customers, it’s important to use them as efficiently as possible. This restriction adds another level of complexity because the solution must guarantee effective usage of each vehicle and satisfaction of all customer demands.

By coming up with appropriate solutions to these problems, businesses may optimize their delivery processes, cut transportation costs, and guarantee the prompt and efficient delivery of goods to clients.

How is the MCVRP Solved?

To solve the Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem numerous algorithms have been proposed, including:

1. Clark and Wright’s savings algorithm

This algorithm creates a more effective set of routes by combining the travel paths of various vehicles. To create new routes, the system first calculates the cost savings of combining the routes of two vehicles. Then, it chooses the most effective combinations.

2. Tabu search algorithm

By ignoring previously investigated solutions, this method uses a memory-based search technique to discover the best solution. It operates by keeping track of previously investigated solutions and avoiding them during the search process.

3. Ant colony optimization algorithm

The search for the ideal solution is guided by pheromone trails in this proposed algorithm, which is based on how ants behave. It operates by modeling how ants locate the shortest path between two points and then using that behavior to operate the MCVRP.

Therefore, to provide businesses with effective routing solutions, the Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP) must be solved.

Why is MCVRP Important?

The logistics and transportation sector is greatly impacted by MCVRP. Let us go through the significance of the MCVRP in this part:

  • By maximizing the utilization of resources, such as vehicles, fuels, and drivers, MCVRP helps to cut operational costs significantly.
  • Reduced delivery times increase customer satisfaction through optimized routing solutions.
  • Reduced fuel usage and a significantly smaller carbon footprint are the results of optimized routing options.
  • MCVRP assists companies in more effective fleet management, which lowers maintenance costs and downtime.
  • MCVRP assists companies in streamlining their operations, which boosts production and efficiency.
  • By enabling companies to offer better services at a reduced cost, optimized routing solutions give them a competitive edge.

Hence, businesses need to understand the importance of the Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem because it can improve fleet management, increase operational efficiency, and result in significant cost savings.

Examples of the MCVRP

In this section, we will examine some actual instances of the Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem (MCVRP). So, let’s begin: 

  1. E-commerce delivery: An e-commerce business uses a fleet of delivery vans to transport a variety of products to clients in various places. The MCVRP can streamline these vehicles’ routes to cut down on transportation expenses and guarantee that goods arrive on time.
  2. Waste collection: A waste management company needs to collect waste from various locations, using a fleet of garbage trucks. These vehicles can be routed more efficiently using the MCVRP to cut down on trip time and transportation costs.
  3. Medical supply distribution:  A hospital wants to use a fleet of trucks to deliver medical supplies to several clinics. Hence, to guarantee on-time delivery of goods and save transportation expenses, MCVRP can be utilized to optimize the routes of these trucks. 

These instances demonstrate how MCVRP may support companies in a variety of sectors to improve their delivery, logistics, and transportation operations.


To sum up, the Multi-commodity Vehicle Routing Problem is a challenging one that requires determining the most effective route for moving a variety of commodities utilizing a fleet of vehicles while taking into account several restrictions, such as vehicle capacity restrictions, commodity compatibility, and journey time.

The MCVRP can be solved, which can result in significant cost savings, greater resource use, and higher levels of customer satisfaction. Additionally, by comprehending the significance and difficulties of MCVRP, companies from a variety of industries can improve the productivity and affordability of their delivery, logistics, and transportation processes.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner, a route planning and optimization software. With 28+ years of experience in the technology industry, Rakesh is a subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems. His ultimate goal with Upper Route Planner is to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges and simplify operations such as route planning, scheduling, dispatching, take a proof of delivery, manage drivers, real time tracking, customer notifications and more. He loves sharing his thoughts on eliminating delivery management challenges via blogs. Read more.