The Value of Flexibility in Robust Location–Transportation Problems

This article studies a capacitated fixed-charge multiperiod location–transportation problem in which, while the location and capacity of each facility must be determined immediately, the determination of the final production and distribution of products can be delayed until actual orders are received in each period. In contexts where little is known about future demand, robust optimization, namely using a budgeted uncertainty set, becomes a natural method for identifying meaningful decisions. Unfortunately, it is well known that these types of multiperiod robust decision problems are computationally intractable. To overcome this difficulty, the authors propose a set of tractable conservative approximations for the problem that each exploit to a different extent the idea of reducing the flexibility of the delayed decisions. While all of these approximation models outperform previous approximation models that have been proposed for this problem, each also has the potential to reach a different level of compromise between efficiency of resolution and quality of the solution. A row generation algorithm is also presented to address problem instances of realistic size. The authors also demonstrate that full flexibility is often unnecessary to reach nearly, or even exact, optimal robust locations and capacities for the facilities. Finally, the authors illustrate their findings with an extensive numerical study where they evaluate the effect of the amount of uncertainty on the performance and structure of each approximate solution that can be obtained. The online appendix is available at


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  • Accession Number: 01663190
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2018 4:23PM