Policies for the Dynamic Traveling Maintainer Problem with Alerts

05/31/2021
by   Paulo da Costa, et al.
2

Companies require modern capital assets such as wind turbines, trains and hospital equipment to experience minimal downtime. Ideally, assets are maintained right before failure to ensure maximum availability at minimum maintenance costs. To this end, two challenges arise: failure times of assets are unknown a priori and assets can be part of a larger asset network. Nowadays, it is common for assets to be equipped with real-time monitoring that emits alerts, typically triggered by the first signs of degradation. Thus, it becomes crucial to plan maintenance considering information received via alerts, asset locations and maintenance costs. This problem is referred to as the Dynamic Traveling Maintainer Problem with Alerts (DTMPA). We propose a modeling framework for the DTMPA, where the alerts are early and imperfect indicators of failures. The objective is to minimize discounted maintenance costs accrued over an infinite time horizon. We propose three methods to solve this problem, leveraging different information levels from the alert signals. The proposed methods comprise various greedy heuristics that rank assets based on proximity, urgency and economic risk; a Traveling Maintainer Heuristic employing combinatorial optimization to optimize near-future costs; a Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) method trained to minimize the long-term costs using exclusively the history of alerts. In a simulated environment, all methods can approximate optimal policies with access to perfect condition information for small asset networks. For larger networks, where computing the optimal policy is intractable, the proposed methods yield competitive maintenance policies, with DRL consistently achieving the lowest costs.

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