Redefining the service vessel fleet size and mix problem using tradespace methods
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Purpose This paper addresses the problem of designing a fleet of service vessels to cooperate towards performing a set of operations under operation demand uncertainty. Emphasis is put on identification of compromises between alternative objectives in fleet design, and is relevant in analysis of fleet renewal programs. Design/methodology/approach The methodological approach of the paper is tradespace exploration and epoch-era analysis. Rather than finding an optimal fleet composition directly, we explore a set of alternative fleet architectures, in terms of value and cost, across several possible contexts, finding fleet compositions that can be expected to deliver value over time. Findings The paper illustrates the applicability of tradespace exploration and epoch-era analysis in a fleet composition problem. Through this, important trade-offs between alternative compositions are identified. Research limitations/implications (if applicable) One limitation of the current research is the simplifications made through the case study. These limitations could be addressed by including simulation of operations and considering fleet deployment. Practical implications (if applicable) This paper provides stakeholders with new tools for asset management. An impact could be more cost-beneficial acquisitional decisions, and improved understanding of compromises that must be made when composing or updating a fleet of assets. Original/value The paper applies tradespace exploration and epoch-era analysis in a new segment, and provides an aggregation of these methodologies to a fleet level. Insights in trade-offs typical for fleet size and mix decisions under uncertainty are generated, such as the choice between a smaller fleet of multi-functional vessels, and a larger fleet of less complex vessels.