A Simulation-Optimization Model for Automated Parcel Lockers Network Design in Urban Scenarios in Pamplona (Spain), Zakopane, and Krakow (Poland)

The constant rise of e-commerce coupled with extremely fast deliveries is a significant contributor to saturate city centers’ mobility. To address this issue, the development of a convenient Automated Parcel Lockers (APLs) network improves last-mile distribution by reducing the number of transportation vehicles, the distances driven, and the delivery stops.

This article aims to define and compare APL networks in the cities of Pamplona (Spain), Zakopane and Krakow (Poland). Thereby, a bi-criteria weighted-sum simulation optimization model is developed for a representative year for the aforementioned cities.

An agent-based model (ABM) was implemented in the current paper to forecast parcel demand placed on APLs based on socio-economic factors for a three-year planning horizon. The simulation forecasted the e-commerce demands, whereas the optimal APL network was obtained with a bi-criteria maximum APL revenues and minimum network costs. A bi-criteria facility location problem (BCFLP) was integrated within the simulation framework and solved using IBM®ILOG CPLEX 12.6.2. Meaningful results were obtained from the multi-criteria hybrid model outcomes as well as from the cities comparison.

The results were based on real data from three different cities from two European countries (Poland and Spain). There were some similarities and differences between the results of optimization and simulations for APLs in the three considered cities. These outcomes suggested efficient APL networks considering cultural and demographic factors for a massive use of APLs in high-demand periods.

This paper encourages the use of the hybrid methodology of simulation and optimization to deal with complex real-world problems. In effect, complex systems require a combination of methodologies that are able to conveniently cope with a problem. A set of presented analyses have enabled comparison of costs and revenue between all considered cities. Thus, the obtained results showed symptomatic aspects of the automated parcel lockers market in the considered cities from Spain and Poland.

The simulation optimization approach
The simulation optimization approach

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