Workforce agility in repair and maintenance environments

Seyed M.R. Iravani, Vijayalakshmi Krishnamurthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In this paper we consider workforce management in repair/maintenance environments in which repairmen are cross-trained to attend more than one type of machine. In this context, we study the machine-repairman problem with heterogeneous machines but with partially cross-trained repairmen. We introduce simple repairmanassignment rules as well as machine-priority rules that are effective in minimizing the machine downtime costs, or balancing the percentage of working machines of different types. We show that static machine priority rules are effective in minimizing systems downtime costs, while a generalized version of the longest queue policy is effective in balancing the percentage of working machines. We also introduce the concept of hidden symmetry in repair environments, and show that the well-known chain repairman skill set structure performs very well in repair environments with hidden symmetry. Finally, we provide insights into the design and control issues of repair/maintenance systems with cross-trained repairmen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-184
Number of pages17
JournalManufacturing and Service Operations Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Cross-training
  • Machine-repairman problem
  • Myopic approach
  • Preemption
  • Quasi-birth-and-death process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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