E-commerce sales have led to a considerable increase in the demand for last-mile delivery companies, revealing several problems in their logistics processes. Among these problems, are not meeting delivery deadlines. For example, in Chile, the national consumer service (SERNAC) indicated that in 2018, late deliveries represented 23% of complaints in retail online sales and were the second most common reason for complaints. Some of the causes are incorrectly designed delivery zones because in many cases, these delivery zones do not account for the demographic growth of cities. The result is an imbalanced workload between different zones, which leads to some resources being idle while others fail to meet their workload in satisfactory conditions. The present work proposes a hybrid method for designing delivery zones with an objective based on improving the quality of express delivery services. The proposed method combines a preprocess based on the grouping of demand in areas according to the structure of the territory, a heuristic that generates multiple candidates for the distribution zones, and a mathematical model that combines the different distribution zones generated to obtain a final territorial design. To verify the applicability of the proposed method, a case study is considered based on the real situation of a Chilean courier company with low service fulfillment in its express deliveries. The results obtained from the computational experiments show the applicability of the method, highlighting the validity of the aggregation procedure and improvements in the results obtained using the hybrid method compared to the initial heuristic. The final solution improves the ability to meet the conditions associated with express deliveries, compared with the current situation, by 12 percentage points. The results also allow an indicative sample of the critical service factors of a company to be obtained, identifying the effects of possible changes in demand or service conditions.
- Hybrid heuristics
- Last-mile delivery