Optimizing usage and maintenance decisions for k-out-of-n systems of moving assets

Ayse Sena Eruguz, Tarkan Tan*, Geert Jan van Houtum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We consider an integrated usage and maintenance optimization problem for a k-out-of-n system pertaining to a moving asset. The k-out-of-n systems are commonly utilized in practice to increase availability, where n denotes the total number of parallel and identical units and k the number of units required to be active for a functional system. Moving assets such as aircraft, ships, and submarines are subject to different operating modes. Operating modes can dictate not only the number of system units that are needed to be active, but also where the moving asset physically is, and under which environmental conditions it operates. We use the intrinsic age concept to model the degradation process. The intrinsic age is analogous to an intrinsic clock which ticks on a different pace in different operating modes. In our problem setting, the number of active units, degradation rates of active and standby units, maintenance costs, and type of economic dependencies are functions of operating modes. In each operating mode, the decision maker should decide on the set of units to activate (usage decision) and the set of units to maintain (maintenance decision). Since the degradation rate differs for active and standby units, the units to be maintained depend on the units that have been activated, and vice versa. In order to minimize maintenance costs, usage and maintenance decisions should be jointly optimized. We formulate this problem as a Markov decision process and provide some structural properties of the optimal policy. Moreover, we assess the performance of usage policies that are commonly implemented for maritime systems. We show that the cost increase resulting from these policies is up to 27% for realistic settings. Our numerical experiments demonstrate the cases in which joint usage and maintenance optimization is more valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-434
Number of pages17
JournalNaval Research Logistics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • k-out-of-n system
  • maintenance
  • maritime
  • moving assets
  • usage


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing usage and maintenance decisions for k-out-of-n systems of moving assets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this