ArcGIS Network Analyst

Fleet Routing with the VRP Solver: An Introduction

Do you have a fleet of vehicles that need to be routed to customers?  The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) Solver is here to help you do that efficiently. But the VRP Team understands that the solver is complicated and has a ton of different options.  This is the beginning of a series of posts to help explain the different modeling options available to you, giving you all our best tips and tricks.  We will start our discussion by examining what problem types we support.

If you have topics you would like us to discuss or specific questions please post them here.


The vehicles visit customers to provide a service.

In the Services operation, the vehicles all start at either a central location or the driver’s residence. It then visits the customers on the route providing a service for them before moving on to the next customer. The vehicle then returns to either the central location or their residence to end the day.


Vehicles deliver goods from a central location to customers.

In the Delivery operation, the vehicles start their routes full from their warehouse.  They deliver their goods to customers along their route, emptying their vehicle as they go. Vehicles end their route empty at the last location returning to the warehouse.  There is also the option of having the vehicle return to the warehouse mid-route to fill up the vehicle for more deliveries.


Vehicles pickup goods from customers bring them back to a central location.

In the Pickup operation, the vehicles start their routes empty and get filled up along the route. They then arrive full at the ending location.  There is also the option of the vehicle to return to a central facility to empty their vehicles mid-route and then continue picking up items.

Goods-Delivery and Pickup

Each Vehicle can both deliver goods from a central location to a customer and/or pickup goods from a customer to bring back to the central location.

In a Delivery and Pickup operation, the vehicles start their route at least partly full to make deliveries.  The vehicle can also pickup product along the route when the vehicle has extra room from either a partially full vehicle at the start or as goods are delivered freeing up space. Pickups, however, do not re-fill the vehicle with usable goods allowing it to make more deliveries.


Vehicles Pick up a customer or packages from one location and deliver them to another location.

In the Courier/Rideshare operation, the vehicle always starts empty. The passengers or parcels are picked up along the route and transported to their desired drop off location. The vehicle then ends the day with no passengers or parcels.

There can be additional rules about the maximum time between the pickup and delivery orders, especially when transporting people.  This may lead to having customer service related objectives.

Get Involved

What VRP problem type are you working on?  Join this discussion to describe a problem you are modeling with the VRP solver.

About the author

A product engineer on the Network Analyst Team. Heather works primarily with the VRP solver.


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