Scheduling to improve field service quality

Dyan L. Haugen, Arthur V. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This research addresses the problem of scheduling technicians to travel from customer site to customer site to perform emergency maintenance on office machines, computers, robots, telecommunications equipment, medical equipment, heating/cooling equipment, household appliances, and other equipment. We call this the Traveling Technician Problem (TTP). In its simplest form, the TTP is a multiserver, sequence-dependent, tardiness minimization problem. This research frames the TTP as a service quality maximization problem in which service quality is defined in terms of mean tardiness, mean technician phone response time, mean promise time, and mean response time. Tardiness is defined with respect to contractually guaranteed response times. Industry practice is to use dispatching rules to assign service calls to technicians. This research proposes scheduling procedures to maximize field service quality in a dynamic environment. A simulation experiment was used to compare three dispatching rules and three scheduling procedures for the TTP. The scheduling procedures dominated the dispatching rules on all four service quality measures. The proposed scheduling procedures hold promise for improving service quality in a wide variety of field service organizations and in other scheduling environments as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-804
Number of pages22
JournalDecision Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Quality
  • Service operations
  • Simulation


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