The management of remanufacturing inventory system is often challenged by mismatched supply (i.e., returned units, called cores) and demand. Typically, the demand for remanufactured units is high and exceeds the supply early in a product's lifetime, and drops below the supply late in the lifetime. This supply–demand imbalance motivates us to study a switching strategy to facilitate the decision-making process. This strategy deploys a push mode at the early stage of a product's lifetime, which remanufactures scarce cores to stock to responsively satisfy the high demand, and switches to a pull mode as the product approaches obsolescence to accurately match the low demand with supply. In addition, the strategy further simplifies the decision-making process by ignoring the impact of leftover cores at the end of each decision period. We show that the optimal policy of the switching strategy possesses a simple, multi-dimensional base-stock structure, which aims to remanufacture units from the i best-quality categories up to the ith state-independent base-stock level. An extensive numerical study shows that the switching strategy delivers close-to-optimal and robust performance: the strategy only incurs an average profit loss of 1.21% and a maximum of 2.27%, compared with the optimal one. The numerical study also shows when a pure push or pull strategy, a special case of the switching strategy, delivers good performance. The study offers the managerial insight that firms can use simple, easy-to-implement strategies to efficiently manage the remanufacturing inventory system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management Science and Operations Research
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
- Management of Technology and Innovation