Inventory control in a spare parts distribution system with emergency stocks and pipeline information

Publisher's full text
Johan Marklund
Tarkan Tan
Ingrid Reijnen

Motivated by collaboration with a global spare parts service provider, we consider a two-echelon inventory system with multiple local warehouses, a so-called support warehouse, and a central warehouse with ample capacity. In case of stock-outs, the local warehouses can receive emergency shipments from the support warehouse or the central warehouse at an extra cost.

Our focus is on using information on orders in the replenishment pipeline, i.e., pipeline information, to achieve cost-efficient policies for requesting emergency shipments. We introduce a policy where the request for an emergency shipment is based on the time until an outstanding order will reach the stock point considered. The goal is to determine how long one should wait for stock in the replenishment pipeline before requesting an emergency shipment, and the cost effects of using pipeline information in this manner. The analysis utilizes results from queuing theory and provides a decomposition technique for optimizing the policy parameters that reduces the complex multiechelon problem to more manageable single-echelon problems. The performance of our policy indicates that there can be a significant benefit in using pipeline information.

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