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Service Systems Improvement Method, Airline Turaround Operations, Theory of Constraints
Date of Defense
This dissertation develops a process improvement method for service operations based on the Theory of Constraints (TOC), a management philosophy that has been shown to be effective in manufacturing for decreasing WIP and improving throughput. While TOC has enjoyed much attention and success in the manufacturing arena, its application to services in general has been limited. The contribution to industry and knowledge is a method for improving global performance measures based on TOC principles. The method proposed in this dissertation will be tested using discrete event simulation based on the scenario of the service factory of airline turnaround operations. To evaluate the method, a simulation model of aircraft turn operations of a U.S. based carrier was made and validated using actual data from airline operations. The model was then adjusted to reflect an application of the Theory of Constraints for determining how to deploy the scarce resource of ramp workers. The results indicate that, given slight modifications to TOC terminology and the development of a method for constraint identification, the Theory of Constraints can be applied with success to services. Bottlenecks in services must be defined as those processes for which the process rates and amount of work remaining are such that completing the process will not be possible without an increase in the process rate. The bottleneck ratio is used to determine to what degree a process is a constraint. Simulation results also suggest that redefining performance measures to reflect a global business perspective of reducing costs related to specific flights versus the operational local optimum approach of turning all aircraft quickly results in significant savings to the company. Savings to the annual operating costs of the airline were simulated to equal 30% of possible current expenses for misconnecting passengers with a modest increase in utilization of the workers through a more efficient heuristic of deploying them to the highest priority tasks. This dissertation contributes to the literature on service operations by describing a dynamic, adaptive dispatch approach to manage service factory operations similar to airline turnaround operations using the management philosophy of the Theory of Constraints.
Ellis, Steven C., "A Theory of Constraints Service Systems Improvement Method: Case of the Airline Turnaround Problem" (2011). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 404.