THERMAL PERFORMANCE OF REFRIGERATED VEHICLES IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF PERISHABLE FOOD
The temperature of refrigerated products along the distribution process must be kept within close limits to ensure optimum food safety levels and high product quality. The variation of product temperature along the vehicle routing sequence is represented by non-linear functions. The temperature variability is also correlated with the time required for the refrigerated unit to recover after cargo unloading, due to the cargo discharging process. The vehicle routing optimization methods employed in traditional cargo distribution problems are generally based on the Travelling Salesman Problem with the objective of minimizing travelled distance or time. The thermal quality of routing alternatives is evaluated in this analysis with Process Capability Indices (PCI). Since temperature does not vary linearly with time, a Simulated Annealing algorithm was developed to get the optimal solution in which the minimum vehicle traveling distance is searched, but respecting the quality level expressed by a required minimum PCI value.