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Multi drop route planning and pickups

The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) and solving the riddle of multi drop route planning has been a long standing conundrum for mathematicians since 1959 when the first algorithmic approach was applied to multiple deliveries of petrol from a depot, as cited in Wikipedia.

This route planning problem becomes even more difficult as the number of vehicles and deliveries increases, or the number of days over which goods could be delivered increases or when collections / pick-ups / returns are then included, especially where these also require dropping off on the same day or route.

Optimised Multi Drop Deliveries by route

In this example below of a simple multi drop delivery routing problem it is easy to see that if goods are delivered using the best route possible, rather than in the order the requests for delivery were received, then the route can be made shorter resulting in the miles being reduced along with fuel consumption and the time saved.

Multiple drop route planning - routing before and after sequencing

Optimised multiple drop deliveries by vehicle

If it is then also feasible to route multiple deliveries using more than one vehicle it can be possible to calculate and determine the best multi-drop routes for each vehicle. In the example below two multiple stop delivery routes are redistributed between the two vehicles, resulting in fewer miles for each vehicle and a higher delivery density/mile.

route swapping maps

Optimised day delivery

This can be taken a stage further, if the multiple drop deliveries can then also be redistributed between days an even more optimised route can be found for the deliveries on each day and capacity freed up for additional deliveries on each route. Note the additional green deliveries on the optimised maps, possible due to the reduced miles and time take to navigate the daily route.

route day swapping maps

Multi drop and pickup routes

Delivery routes become even more complicated if they then also need to include collections. Not only does the route optimisation engine now need to consider the locations of the collections and the points to which they need to be delivered, but also the capacity of the vehicle. There needs to be sufficient space for the collected goods to be placed inside the vehicle alongside any items that are also being delivered.


Descartes Optimisation Engine considers all the necessary factors when planning optimised routes for multi drop deliveries and collections.

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