Setting up a Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP)

There are a great number of variables that can be used while modeling a Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) relating to routes, drivers, vehicles, pickup locations, drop-off locations, and costs. This can help you to optimize routes for a wide variety of logistical operations. This scenario uses the operating expense of the trucks broken down by cost per mile. You will also factor in the cost of labor in terms of cost per minute. In the first model, you will explore the results of using a route comprised of only one truck and one driver. In the Network Analyst Toolbar, choose New Vehicle Routing Problem.

An image of the Network Analyst Toolbar.

In the table of contents, a new group layer is added. This group layer is comprised of empty memory feature classes. These data types behave similar to shapefiles but only exist temporarily in the computer’s memory. When you close ArcMap, you will no longer have access to these layers. They must be exported if you want to make them permanent. However, they are temporary for a reason. By using memory feature classes, you can re-run our model multiple times with different sets of parameters, without unnecessarily creating shapefiles that you may not need to keep in the long term. This saves on overall disk storage space and makes managing data easier as you conduct your analysis. In the Network Analyst window, an empty Vehicle Routing Problem is added. The Vehicle Routing problem in the Network Analyst window represents our model. It is here that you will enter our model parameters. Each time you adjust our model parameters, you will do so here as well.

Note: It is possible to create multiple vehicle routing problems (VRPs) in one map document. Each represents a different model. In this exercise, you will only work with one. Be careful not to inadvertently create multiple VRPs.

An image of a new group layer added to the Table of Contents.
On the left, empty memory feature classes are added to the Table of Contents. On the right, an empty Vehicle Routing Problem is added to the Network Analyst Window.