Publication Date
Authored by
Ronald Veldman
Advisor(s): Matthias Winkenbach
Topic(s) Covered:
  • Optimization
  • Transportation
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Last Mile
  • Urban Logistics

In previous decades the postal sector experienced drastic changes. Liberalization and digitization resulted in a continuous mail market decline. Simultaneously the rise of Internet resulted in a booming e-commerce parcel delivery market. To cope with these ongoing market developments Postal Operators (POs) need to rigorously restructure their delivery networks frequently in order to reduce distribution cost. Moreover, POs are searching for synergy opportunities between the mail and parcel delivery network. A recent development in the postal sector is the use of light electric freight vehicles (LEFV) in urban and suburban areas as a sustainable and cheaper solution for last-mile delivery. Limited research has been performed regarding the impact of LEFV on distribution cost and network design. This thesis introduces a two echelon location routing model for POs to determine the optimal network configuration for mail and parcel delivery in order to minimize total distribution costs using LEFV in their vehicle portfolio. A mixed integer linear programming model (MILP) is proposed including a multi-depot VRP for the first tier and continuous approximation techniques (CA) for the second tier. Using a real-world application at the Dutch PO - PostNL - the impact of merging the mail and parcel network as well as the impact of introducing LEFV was established. Results suggest that adding LEFV to the vehicle fleet leads to a distribution cost saving of 3% in the separate mail and parcel network. LEFV are a worthy alternative to vans in dense city areas, due to their high speed on short distances and their manoeuvrability in city areas. While merging the parcel and mail network with the current vehicle fleet leads to a distribution cost reduction of 1%, the inclusion of LEFV in a merger scenario leads to a saving of 5%. Therefore, adding LEFV to the vehicle fleet enables POs to seize synergy opportunities between the distribution networks.