Fangruo Chen

Stationary policies in multiechelon inventory systems with deterministic demand and backlogging


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A stationary policy conducts replenishment activities-the placement and fulfillment of orders-in a stationary fashion. That is, each facility receives a constant batch (facility specific) in equal time intervals (facility specific) under a stationary policy. Although the advantages of stationary policies are clear (i.e., smooth operations), they represent a restriction in policy selection. This paper investigates how costly this restriction can be. For two multiechelon systems (serial and distribution) with deterministic demand and backlogging, we show that stationary policies are 70%-effective. This bound is tight in the sense that an example exists where the bound is reached. On the other hand, the average effectiveness of stationary policies is very high. In a set of 1,000 randomly generated numerical examples, we observed that the average effectiveness was 99%, and the standard deviation was 1.5%. The numerical examples also suggest that the performance of stationary policies deteriorates in systems where the setup cost decreases dramatically from an upstream stage to a downstream stage. Finally, a key building block of the above results is the existing lower bounds on the average costs of all feasible policies in the above systems. We provide a simpler derivation of these bounds.

Source: Operations Research
Exact Citation:
Chen, Fangruo. "Stationary policies in multiechelon inventory systems with deterministic demand and backlogging." Operations Research 46, no. 3, Supplement 3 (1998): S26-S34.
Volume: 46
Number: 3, Supplement 3
Pages: S26-S34
Date: 1998