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The scheduling of maintenance service for a family of machines of multi-branch firm

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Purpose ‐ It is not uncommon that a multi-branch firm has all its branches maintaining the same group of machines from a maintenance department. Clearly there are potential opportunities to reduce costs by coordinating the joint maintenance among the branches. The purpose of this paper is to optimally coordinate the maintenance schedule of machines of multi-branch firms to save the maintenance cost incurred. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A search algorithm is proposed that proceeds the searching through the junction points within the lower and upper bounds of the search range. An example is given to illustrate the method. Findings ‐ The optimality structure of this problem is explored and it is asserted that the optimal cost is piece-wise convex. Based on theoretical results, an effective search algorithm is derived that can efficiently determine the maintenance frequencies for a family of machines of multi-branch firm. Practical implications ‐ A well-planned maintenance schedule can not only bring down the cost but also raise the utilization rate of a family of machines. Numerical results show that the whole maintenance system can obtain significant cost savings from the coordination policy. Originality/value ‐ In response to branches adopting coordinated maintenances, the maintenance manager providing the maintenances to the branches faces a scheduling problem of how to minimize its total costs. This is an area that has received little attention in the literature. By utilizing the theoretical results, an efficient search algorithm that solves the optimal solution for this problem is proposed.
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Keywords: Family of machines; Maintenance; Multi-branch firm; Operations and production management; Programming and algorithm theory; Scheduling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-10

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