Territory design and districting may be viewed as the problem of grouping small geographic areas into larger geographic clusters called territories in such a way that the latter are acceptable according to relevant planning criteria. The availability of GIS on computers and the growing interest in Geo-Marketing leads to an increasing importance of this area. Despite the wide range of applications for territory design problems, when taking a closer look at the models proposed in the literature, a lot of similarities can be noticed. Indeed, the models are many times very similar and can often be, more or less directly, carried over to other applications. Therefore, our aim is to provide a generic application-independent model and present efficient solution techniques. We introduce a basic model that covers aspects common to most applications. Moreover, we present a method for solving the general model which is based on ideas from the field of computational geometry. Theoretical as well as computational results underlining the efficiency of the new approach will be given. Finally, we show how to extend the model and solution algorithm to make it applicable for a broader range of applications and how to integrate the presented techniques into a GIS.
The problem discussed in this paper is motivated by the new recycling directiveWEEE of the EC. The core of this law is, that each company which sells electrical or electronic equipment in a European country has the obligation to recollect and recycle an amount of returned items which is proportional to its market share. To assign collection stations to companies, in Germany for one product type a territory design approach is planned. However, in contrast to classical territory design, the territories should be geographically as dispersed as possible to avoid that a company, resp. its logistics provider responsible for the recollection, gains a monopoly in some region. First, we identify an appropriate measure for the dispersion of a territory. Afterwards, we present a first mathematical programming model for this new problem as well as a solution method based on the GRASP methodology. Extensive computational results illustrate the suitability of the model and assess the effectiveness of the heuristic.