A restless bandit approach for capacitated condition based maintenance scheduling

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Demirci E. Z., Arts J., Houtum G. v.

Flexible Services and Manufacturing Journal, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10696-024-09544-y
  • Journal Name: Flexible Services and Manufacturing Journal
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, ABI/INFORM, Aerospace Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Compendex, Computer & Applied Sciences, INSPEC, Metadex, zbMATH, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Maintenance, Restless bandit, Whittle’s index heuristic
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


This paper considers the maintenance scheduling problem of multiple non-identical machines deteriorating over time. The deterioration gradually decreases a machine’s performance, which results in revenue losses due to lower output quality. The maintenance cost is dependent on the degradation state, and the number of maintenance activities that can be carried out simultaneously is restricted by the number of maintenance workers. Our main goal is to propose a heuristic with low complexity that consistently produces solutions close to the optimal strategy for problems of real size. We cast the problem as a restless bandit problem and propose an index based heuristic (Whittle’s index policy) which can be computed efficiently. We also provide a lower bound that can be computed by linear programming. We numerically compare the performance of the index heuristic with alternative policies. In addition to achieving superior performance over failure-based and threshold policies, Whittle’s policy numerically converges to our lower bound when the number of machines is moderately high and/or maintenance workload is high.