Decision Making in a Standby Service System

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A standby service option allows a firm to lower its risk of not having sufficient capacity to satisfy demand without investing in additional capacity. Standby service options currently exist in the natural gas, electric, and water utility industries. Firms seeking standby service are typically large industrial or institutional organizations that, due to unexpectedly high demand or interruptions in their own supply system, look to a public utility to supplement their requirements. Typically, the firm pays the utility a reservation fee based on a nominated volume and a consumption charge based on the volume actually taken. In this paper, a single-period model is developed and optimized with respect to the amount of standby capacity a firm should reserve. Expressions for the mean and variance of the supplier's aggregate standby demand distribution are developed. A procedure for computing the level of capacity needed to safely meet its standby obligations is presented. Numerical results suggest that the standby supplier can safely meet its standby demand with a capacity that is generally between 20 to 50% of the aggregate nominated volume.

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