Forty five years ago, an academic and practitioner from the north of England published a method of tackling the vehicle routing problem (VRP) in an American journal. Little could they have realised how the method they devised would still be a significant part of the research agenda nearly half a century later. Adaptations of their method are significant components in the analysis of the many different extensions to the problem that have been investigated. This paper provides the historical background to the development of the savings method and subsequent proposed variations to the basic savings formula and other improvements, and then charts the role the savings method has played in the investigation of VRPs with additional constraints. Some interesting examples of practical applications of the savings method are reported. Finally, comments are made on the use of the savings method in commercial routing packages.
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