Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

Ratna B. Chinnam


In today's global economy, firms are seeking any and every opportunity to differentiate from competitors by reducing supply chain costs and adding value to end customers. One increasingly popular option, under growing consumer awareness and increasing legislation, is to reintegrate returned products into the supply chain to achieve economic benefits as well as improve sustainability. An important class of such "reverse" goods flows has to do with remanufacturing (reman), which refers to activities that restore returned products ("cores") or their major modules to operational condition for using in place of new product or distributing through other channels (e.g., spare parts). While opportunities abound, some key complications reported in the literature include: 1) difficulty in timing the launch of reman product (while accounting for uncertainties associated with product life-cycle demand and core supply), 2) difficulty with capacity planning for remanufacturing (while accounting for the fact that volumes can be low and that facilities/lines should target multiple product families for economies of scale), and 3) operational difficulties in maintaining efficiencies in production planning and control of remanufacturing activities. These difficulties are mostly attributable to limited visibility and higher levels of uncertainty in reverse logistics (in comparison with forward logistics). Despite advances in the remanufacturing literature in the last two decades (both in the academic literature and practitioner community), there is no integrated decision support framework that can guide companies to successful launch and execution of remanufacturing operations. This is particularly true for companies that engage in both original equipment (OE) service as well as the independent after-market (IAM) in the automotive industry. This research aims to address these limitations by developing a decision support framework and necessary models for effective remanufacturing in the automotive industry.

At the strategic level, we propose a unified approach to explicitly model and address issues of capacities as well timing the launch of remanufacturing programs for new product. We derive the optimal remanufacturing policy and extensively studied the drivers of cost-effective remanufacturing program for aftermarket services. Our policies exploit the ability to leverage OE production to support both the OE service operations as well as demand from the IAM. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first attempt of its kind in the remanufacturing literature, as prior research treated these interrelated decisions separately. Valuable managerial insights are obtained by minimizing the discounted cash outflows caused by appropriate investment and core return inventory building decisions. We show that, under certain conditions, it may be optimal to delay the launch of the remanufacturing program to build up an adequate initial core return inventory. This may help in perfectly substituting virgin parts with remanufactured parts after end of the OE production run.

At operational level, efficient production planning and control of reman parts for the supplier heavily impinges on the ability to accurately forecast core returns from customers (e.g., dealers, distributors). There are several challenges to this, including, the volume and diversity of customers served by the supplier, differences among individual customer warehouses in returning cores, large reman product catalogs, changing customer behaviors (often improving core return delays), and data sparsity. In this research we report the evidence for the effectiveness of hazard rate regression models to estimate core return delays in the context of remanufacturing. We investigate a number of hazard rate modelling techniques (e.g., parametric, semi-parametric etc.) using real-world datasets from a leading Tier-1 automotive supplier. Results indicate the effectiveness of the proposed framework in terms of stability and face validity of the estimates and in predictive accuracy.