A Clustering Approach for the Optimal Siting of Recharging Stations in the Electric Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows
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Transportation has been incorporating electric vehicles (EVs) progressively. EVs do not produce air or noise pollution, and they have high energy efficiency and low maintenance costs. In this context, the development of efficient techniques to overcome the vehicle routing problem becomes crucial with the proliferation of EVs. The vehicle routing problem concerns the freight capacity and battery autonomy limitations in different delivery-service scenarios, and the challenge of best locating recharging stations. This work proposes a mixed-integer linear programming model to solve the electric location routing problem with time windows (E-LRPTW) considering the state of charge, freight and battery capacities, and customer time windows in the decision model. A clustering strategy based on the k-means algorithm is proposed to divide the set of vertices (EVs) into small areas and define potential sites for recharging stations, while reducing the number of binary variables. The proposed model for E-LRPTW was implemented in Python and solved using mathematical modeling language AMPL together with CPLEX. Performed tests on instances with 5 and 10 clients showed a large reduction in the time required to find the solution (by about 60 times in one instance). It is concluded that the strategy of dividing customers by sectors has the potential to be applied and generate solutions for larger geographical areas and numbers of recharging stations, and determine recharging station locations as part of planning decisions in more realistic scenarios.