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

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Abstract

We consider a consumer electronics manufacturer's problem of controlling the inventory of spare parts in the final phase of the service life cycle. The final phase starts when the part production is terminated and continues until the last service contract or warranty period expires. Placing final orders for service parts is considered to be a popular tactic to satisfy demand during this period and to mitigate the effect of part obsolescence at the end of the service life cycle. Previous research focuses on repairing defective products by replacing the defective parts with properly functioning spare ones. However, for consumer electronic products there typically is considerable price erosion while repair costs stay steady over time. As a consequence, there might be a point in time at which the unit price of the product drops below the repair costs. If so, it is more cost effective to adopt an alternative policy to meet service demands toward the end of the final phase, such as offering customers a new product of the similar type or a discount on a next generation product. This study examines the cost trade-offs of implementing alternative policies for the repair policy and develops an exact expression for the expected total cost function. Using this expression, the optimal final order quantity and switching time from repair to an alternative policy can be determined simultaneously. Numerical analysis of a real world case sheds light on the cost benefits of these policies and also yields insights into the quantitative importance of the various cost parameters.

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