Joint optimization of spare parts inventory and service engineers staffing with full backlogging

S. Rahimi-Ghahroodi*, A. Al Hanbali, I. M.H. Vliegen, M. A. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We consider the integrated planning of spare parts and service engineers that are needed for serving a group of systems. These systems are subject to different failure types, and for each failure, a service engineer with the necessary spare part has to be assigned to repair the system. The service provider follows a backlogging policy with part reservations. That is, a repair request is backlogged if one of the required resources is not immediately available upon demand. Moreover, a spare part is reserved if the requested spare part is in stock but no service engineer is immediately available. The spare parts are typically slow-movers and are managed according to a base-stock policy. The objective is to jointly determine the stock levels and the number of service engineers to minimize the total service costs subject to a constraint on the expected total waiting times of the repair calls. For the evaluation of a given setting, we present an exact method (computationally feasible for small problems) and an accurate approximation. For the joint optimization, we present a greedy heuristic that efficiently produces close-to-optimal results. We test how the heuristic performs compared to the optimal solution and the separate optimization of spare parts and service engineers in an extensive numerical study. In a case study with 93 types of spare parts, we show that the solution of the greedy algorithm is always within 2% of the optimal solution and is up to 20% better than a separated optimization approach encountered in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was made possible by the NPRP award [ NPRP 7-308-2-128 ] from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of The Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Heuristics
  • Maintenance
  • Queueing
  • Service logistics
  • Spare parts inventory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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