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End-of-Life Inventory Decisions for Consumer Electronics Service Parts

By M. Pourakbar, J.B.G. Frenk and R. Dekker

Abstract

We consider a consumer electronics (CE) manufacturer’s problem of controlling the inventoryof spare parts in the final phase of the service life cycle. The final phase starts when thepart production is terminated and continues until the last service contract or warranty periodexpires. Placing final orders for service parts is considered to be a popular tactic to satisfy demandduring this period and to mitigate the effect of part obsolescence at the end of the servicelife cycle. To satisfy demand for service in the final phase, previous research focuses on repairingdefective products by replacing the defective parts with properly functioning spare ones.However, for consumer electronic products there is a remarkable price erosion while repaircosts may stay steady over time. As a consequence, this introduces the idea that there mightbe a point in time at which the unit price of the product is lower than repair associated costs.Therefore, it would be more cost effective to adopt an alternative policy to meet demands forservice such as offering customers a replacement of the defective product with a new one orgiving a discount on the next generation of the product. This paper examines the cost trade-offsof implementing alternative policies for the repair policy and develops an exact formulation forthe expected total cost function. Based on this developed cost function we propose policies tosimultaneously find the optimal final order quantity and the time to switch from the repair toan alternative replacement policy. Numerical analysis of a real world case study sheds lightover the effectiveness and advantage of these policies in terms of cost reduction and also yieldsinsights into the quantitative importance of the various cost parameters.consumer electronics;end-of-life inventory control;service parts

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