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Dynamic rerouting of a fleet of vehicles in agricultural operations through a Dynamic Multiple Depot Vehicle Routing Problem representation

Seyyedhasani, Hasan, Dvorak, Joseph S.
Biosystems engineering 2018 v.171 pp. 63-77
agricultural land, farms, managers
Agricultural field work within even a single field is a dynamic, complex process, and farm managers are often forced to deviate from their initial plans for working a field as work proceeds. Unexpected field conditions or machinery management challenges can require reallocation and rescheduling of the paths that create the in-field route for each vehicle. The goal of this project was to develop a method for applying the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) that enables dynamic recalculation of the routes. To that end, a combination of Dynamic VRP and Multi-Depot VRP was employed to represent the state of field, available vehicles in the fleet working the field, and the current progress of the field work. This dynamic routing method was then tested in simulations of various common scenarios that would often require rerouting of vehicles. The results revealed the impact of the new routes is dependent on the specifics of the event that necessitated the rerouting. When a vehicle was added to the fleet working the field, the updating procedure was able to use that vehicle to reduce completion times. When vehicles operate at unexpectedly fast or slow rates, recalculating the routes can improve field work parameters, but only if the change in work rates caused a significant deviation in field work progress. The procedure handled increases in the area coverage with most field work parameters varying only slightly from initial levels. This work illustrated the possibility to update field routes for a fleet of vehicles during field operations.