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Instances for the problem of pre-positioning emergency supplies

Renata Turkeš (Operations Research Group ANT/OR, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)
Kenneth Sörensen (Operations Research Group ANT/OR, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 20 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 October 2019




Despite a growing body of research on the problem of increasing disaster preparedness by pre-positioning relief supplies at strategic locations, there is a lack of a benchmark set of problem instances that hinders thorough hypotheses testing, sensitivity analysis, model validation or solution procedure evaluation. The purpose of this paper is to address this issue by constructing a public library of diverse pre-positioning problem instances.


By carefully manipulating some of the instance parameters, the authors generated 30 case studies that were inspired by four instances collected from the literature that focus on disasters of different type and scale that occurred in different parts of the world. In addition, the authors developed a tool to algorithmically generate arbitrarily many diverse random instances of any size.


For many purposes, the problem library can eliminate or reduce the time-consuming process of data collection, conversion, digitization, calibration and validation, while simultaneously increasing the statistical significance of research results and allowing comparison with different works in the literature.

Research limitations/implications

The case studies are inspired by only four disasters, and some of the instance parameters are defined in a reasonable, albeit arbitrary way. The instances are also limited by the underlying problem assumptions.

Practical implications

The instances provide a more comprehensive and balanced experimental setting (compared to a single case study) that can be used to study the pre-positioning and related problems, or derive managerial implications that can directly benefit the practitioners.

Social implications

The instances can be used to derive practical guidelines that humanitarian workers can use on the ground to better plan their pre-positioning strategies and therefore minimize human suffering.


The case studies and the random instance generator are made publicly available to foster further research on the problem of pre-positioning relief supplies and humanitarian logistics in general.



The authors thank the authors that kindly provided the authors with the case studies introduced in their publications that inspired the generation of 30 case studies the authors introduced in this paper. The authors are also indebted to the Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP) Program on Combinatorial Optimization: Metaheuristics and Exact Methods (COMEX), initiated and funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), for their financial support for this research.


Turkeš, R. and Sörensen, K. (2019), "Instances for the problem of pre-positioning emergency supplies", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 172-195.



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