The Microsoft Excel workbook 'VRP Spreadsheet Solver' is the first open source unified platform for representing, solving, and visualising the results of Vehicle Routing Problems (VRPs). It unifies Excel, public GIS and metaheuristics. It can solve VRPs of size up to 200.
Without a unified platform, every VRP should be tackled on its own, with the results getting lost in the ocean of information that is the Internet. Why, then, nobody ever built one?
On one hand, the standard software for small to medium scale quantitative analysis for businesses has been established as, arguably, Microsoft Excel. On the other hand, most academics develop solution algorithms in C++ and the resulting codes are not for the faint of heart. Distance and driving time data have to be retrieved from a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) database, which requires investment. The results of the algorithms are usually represented as a single value, the total cost, and it can only mean so much. It is not straightforward to manually find a solution of a VRP, much less so to compute its cost or to visualize it. Hence, constructing a unified platform for the data sources, solution algorithms, and visual representation of the results is a problem on its own.
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