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PhD thesis on spare parts planning and control for maintenance operations wins European prize

European prize for the best PhD work in Operations Research awarded to Joachim Arts (TU/e)

Gordian congratulates Joachim Arts with his achievement. A valuable contribution to innovation in service logistics! Read more about the thesis:

Spare Parts Planning and Control for Maintenance Operations
Interchangeable parts have revolutionized modern manufacturing. However, the idea of interchangeable parts was originally a maintenance innovation. Equipment that represents a significant financial investment (e.g. aircraft, rolling stock and MRI scanners) is usually maintained by replacing parts in need of maintenance with ready-for-use parts. In this manner, downtime of equipment due to maintenance can be kept to a minimum. To make this system work, it is crucial to have the right amount of spare parts available. This thesis is dedicated to questions that planners of spare part supply chains face regularly, such as: How many spare parts to buy? How to schedule overhauls of important parts? When should the repair of a spare part be expedited? To aid in making these decisions, mathematical models have been formulated to gain structural insights and develop practical solution algorithms. Important features, such as multiple types of spare parts and shared capacities, are incorporated. This research was conducted in collaboration with an industrial partner, NedTrain. The analysis of models uses techniques from different branches of operational research including hierarchical decomposition, mixed integer programming, Markov decision processes, numerical inversion of generating functions, Lagrangian decomposition and column generation, Markov chain aggregation, and asymptotics.

Some further background information regarding EDDA 2015
The European doctoral dissertation award (EDDA) is awarded annually by EURO, the association of European Operational Research Societies. The purpose of the prize is to distinguish an outstanding PhD thesis in Operational Research defended in the countries having an Operational Research (OR) society that is member of EURO.

This year there were four finalists: Luis Cadarso Morga from Spain, Timo Berthold from Germany, Arnoud den Boer from the Netherlands and Joachim Arts, also from the Netherlands. These finalists were chosen from 26 nominations across Europe. Each nominee was nominated by the supervisors of the PhD student and backed by two support letters of other professors (from other universities). The topics studied by the finalists varied from very theoretical (Timo Berthold studied general heuristics for mixed integer non-linear optimization problems) to very applied (Luis Cadarso Morga studied how to construct robust train schedules)  and everything in between (Arnoud den Boer studied pricing decisions and Joachim Arts studied spare parts control for maintenance operations).

Joachim Arts received the award at the closing session of the EURO XXVII Conference in Glasgow on July 15th. The jury especially appreciated that the thesis included a broad spectrum of OR including, theoretical results, modeling based on practice (in particular the practice seen at NedTrain), work with real data, and development of decision support tools. Furthermore, the jury commented that Joachim Arts finished his PhD in the designated time: within slightly over 4 years.


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