Container Loading Problems

A State-of-the-Art Review

  • Andreas Bortfeldt
  • Gerhard Wäscher
Schlagworte: Container loading, cutting, packing, constraints, exact algorithms, heuristics


Container loading is a pivotal function for operating supply chains efficiently. Underperformance results in unnecessary costs (e.g. cost of additional containers to be shipped) and in an unsatisfactory customer service (e.g. violation of deadlines agreed to or set by clients). Thus, it is not surprising that container loading problems have been dealt with frequently in the operations research literature. It has been claimed though that the proposed approaches are of limited practical value since they do not pay enough attention to constraints encountered in practice.
In this paper, a review of the state-of-the-art in the field of container loading will be given. We will identify factors which - from a practical point of view - need to be considered when dealing with container loading problems and we will analyze whether and how these factors are represented in methods for the solution of such problems. Modeling approaches, as well as exact and heuristic algorithms will be reviewed. This will allow for assessing the practical relevance of the research which has been carried out in the field. We will also mention several issues which have not been dealt with satisfactorily so far and give an outlook on future research opportunities.