Scheduling with subcontracting options

Zhi Long Chen, Chung Lun Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Motivated by a problem commonly faced by time-sensitive product manufacturers, an analytical model to study the joint decisions of subcontracting and detailed job scheduling is proposed. In the proposed model, a manufacturer operates in a make-to-order fashion and receives a set of orders from its customers at the beginning of the planning horizon. The orders can be either processed by the manufacturer in-house or subcontracted to one of several available subcontractors, possibly at a higher cost. The manufacturer needs to determine which orders should be produced in-house and which orders should be subcontracted. Furthermore, it needs to determine a production schedule for the orders to be produced in-house. The objective is to minimize the total production and subcontracting cost, subject to a constraint on the maximum completion time of the orders. We analyze the computational complexity of the model, develop a heuristic for solving it and analyze worst-case and asymptotic performances of the heuristic. We also study the value of subcontracting by comparing our model and a model where no subcontracting option is available to the manufacturer. Computational results demonstrate that the subcontracting option gives the manufacturer a significant performance improvement. Related managerial insights are also provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1184
Number of pages14
JournalIIE Transactions (Institute of Industrial Engineers)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2008


  • Asymptotic analysis
  • Computational complexity
  • Scheduling
  • Subcontracting
  • Worst-case analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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