Managing Demand Uncertainty through Core Acquisition in Remanufacturing

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We discuss the optimal raw material acquisition strategy for a third party remanufacturer (3PR). We specifically investigate whether a 3PR should acquire used products or cores in bulk with uncertain quality levels, or in sorted grades with known quality levels; and whether to acquire and remanufacture cores before the demand is realized (planned acquisition), or after the demand is realized (reactive acquisition), or on both occasions (sequential acquisition). When only sorted cores are acquired, we find that, (i) it is optimal to acquire cores in multiple grades to balance acquisition and remanufacturing costs; (ii) if reactive acquisition is possible, it reduces the assortment size (number of grades in which cores are acquired) and the total inventory acquired in the planned acquisition; and (iii) the optimal portfolio of grades to acquire and the optimal acquisition and remanufacturing quantities of these grades can be determined analytically. When bulk cores are acquired in addition to sorted cores, the property of reduction in assortment size of the planned acquisition is preserved. We also show that the 3PR should acquire only a fraction of the demand in planned acquisition, and leave the rest for reactive acquisition. This fraction changes during the lifecycle of a remanufactured product. Using a combination of empirical and realistic data from a smartphone remanufacturer we show that sequential acquisition increases expected profit by up to 8% and 27% over only planned and only reactive acquisitions respectively, and reduces the inventory acquired by up to 21% over only planned acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1464
Number of pages16
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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