In this paper, we discuss a project in which we developed a spreadsheet-based system that interfaces with a no-fee driving-directions application programming interface to quickly and accurately build a travel time and distance matrix and then rapidly determine near-optimal delivery-route schedules using a modified genetic algorithm. To the best of our knowledge, the method we used to create the travel matrix had not been employed previously in an academic study. The tool was tested and refined in a humanitarian setting—a local branch of the Meals on Wheels Association of America (now Meals on Wheels America), an organization that combats hunger and poverty by providing food to individuals who are in need. The tool, which is currently being utilized by Metro Meals on Wheels Treasure Valley, has substantially reduced the time required to plan deliveries and has also reduced the delivery driving times by approximately 15 percent.
This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Interfaces, published by INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences). Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1287/inte.2015.0835
Manikas, Andrew S.; Kroes, James R.; and Gattiker, Thomas F.. (2016). "Metro Meals on Wheels Treasure Valley Employs a Low-Cost Routing Tool to Improve Deliveries". Interfaces, 46(2), 154-167.