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Management

of Waiting Lines

Copyright © 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education (Asia). All rights

Learning Objectives

What imbalance does the existence of a waiting

line reveal?

What causes waiting lines to form, and why is it

impossible to eliminate them completely?

What metrics are used to help managers

analyze waiting lines?

What are some psychological approaches to

managing lines, and why might a manager want

to use them?

What very important lesson does the constant

service time model provide for managers?

17-2

Waiting Lines

Waiting lines occur in all sorts of service systems

Wait time is non-value added

Wait time ranges from the acceptable to the emergent

Short waits in a drive-thru

Sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight

Waiting for emergency service personnel

Waiting time costs

Lower productivity

Reduced competitiveness

Wasted resources

Diminished quality of life

18-3

Queuing Theory Queuing theory Mathematical approach to the analysis of waiting lines Applicable to many environments Call centers Banks Post offices Restaurants Theme parks Telecommunications systems Traffic management 18-4 .

Why Is There Waiting? Waiting lines tend to form even when a system is not fully loaded Variability Arrival and service rates are variable Services cannot be completed ahead of time and stored for later use 18-5 .

A possible loss of goodwill 4. The cost to provide waiting space 2. Waiting Lines: Managerial Implications Why waiting lines cause concern: 1. A possible loss of business when customers leave the line before being served or refuse to wait at all 3. Resulting congestion may disrupt other business operations and/or customers 18-6 . A possible reduction in customer satisfaction 5.

Waiting Line Management Goal: to minimize total costs: Costs associated with customers waiting for service Capacity cost 18-7 .

Arrival and service patterns 4. Queue discipline 18-8 . Population source 2. Waiting Line Characteristics Basic characteristics of waiting lines 1. Number of servers (channels) 3.

Simple Queuing System Figure 18.2 System Processing Order Calling population Arrivals Waiting Service Exit line 18-9 .

Population Source Infinite source Customer arrivals are unrestricted The number of potential customers greatly exceeds system capacity Finite source The number of potential customers is limited 18-10 .

Channels and Phases Channel A server in a service system It is assumed that each channel can handle one customer at a time Phases The number of steps in a queuing system 18-11 .

Common Queuing Systems Figure 18.3 18-12 .

interarrival times are assumed to follow the negative exponential distribution The time between arrivals Service pattern Service times are frequently assumed to follow a negative exponential distribution 18-13 . Arrival and Service Patterns Arrival pattern Most commonly used models assume the arrival rate can be described by the Poisson distribution Arrivals per unit of time Equivalently.

4 18-14 . Poisson and Negative Exponential Figure 18.

first-served (FCFS) basis Non FCFS applications do not treat all customer waiting costs as the same 18-15 . Queue Discipline Queue discipline The order in which customers are processed Most commonly encountered rule is that service is provided on a first-come.

The probability that an arrival will have to wait for service 18-16 . The average time customers wait (in line or in the system) 3. The average number of customers waiting (in line or in the system) 2. Waiting Line Metrics Managers typically consider five measures when evaluating waiting line performance: 1. The implied cost of a given level of capacity and its related waiting line 5. System utilization 4.

Waiting Line Performance Figure 18.6 The average number waiting in line and the average time customers wait in line increase exponentially as the system utilization increases 18-17 .

Queuing Models: Infinite Source Four basic infinite source models All assume a Poisson arrival rate 1. constant service time 3. Multiple priority service. Single server. Multiple servers. exponential service time 4. exponential service time 18-18 . Single server. exponential service time 2.

Infinite-Source Symbols Customer arrival rate Service rate per server Lq The average number of customers waiting for service Ls The average number of customer in the system r The average number of customers being served The system utilization Wq The average time customers wait in line Ws The average time customers spend in the system 1 Service time P0 The probability of zero units in the system Pn The probability of n units in the system M The number of servers (channels) Lmax The maximum expected number waiting in line 18-19 .

Basic Relationships System Utilization M Average number of customers being served r 18-20 .

Basic Relationships Little’s Law For a stable system the average number of customers in line or in the system is equal to the average customer arrival rate multiplied by the average time in the line or system Ls Ws Lq Wq 18-21 .

] In the system: Ls Lq r The average time customers are Waiting in line for service Lq Wq In the system 1 Ls Ws Wq 18-22 . Basic Relationships The average number of customers Waiting in line for service: Lq [Model dependent.

Exponential Service Time M/M/1 2 Lq P0 1 n Pn P0 n P n 1 18-23 . Single Server.

Similar improvements can be made by smoothing arrival rates (such as by use of appointments) 18-24 . example. Single Server. by making service time constant. it can shorten waiting lines noticeably For. Constant Service Time M/D/1 If a system can reduce variability. the average number of customers waiting in line can be cut in half 2 Lq 2 ( ) Average time customers spend waiting in line is also cut by half.

Multiple Servers (M/M/S) Assumptions: A Poisson arrival rate and exponential service time Servers all work at the same average rate Customers form a single waiting line (in order to maintain FCFS processing) 18-25 .

M/M/S M Lq P0 Average number in line M 1! M 2 1 n M M 1 P0 Probability of zero units in system n 0 n! M ! 1 M Average waiting time for an arrival not 1 immediately served Ws M Probability an arrival will have to wait for Wq PW service Ws 18-26 .

Cost Analysis Service system design reflects the desire of management to balance the cost of capacity with the expected cost of customers waiting in the system Optimal capacity is one that minimizes the sum of customer waiting costs and capacity or server costs 18-27 .

Total Cost Curve Figure 18.8 18-28 .

Maximum Line Length An issue that often arises in service system design is how much space should be allocated for waiting lines The approximate line length. that will not be exceeded a specified percentage of the time can be determined using the following: log K ln K Lmax or log ln where specified 1 percentage K Lq 1 18-29 . Lmax.

highest class first Within a class. Multiple Priorities Multiple priority model Customers are processes according to some measure of importance Customers are assigned to one of several priority classes according to some predetermined assignment method Customers are then processed by class. customers are processed by FCFS Exceptions occur only if a higher-priority customer arrives That customer will be processed after the customer currently being processed 18-30 .

Multiple –Server Priority Model 18-31 .

the arrival rate is affected by the length of the waiting line The arrival rate of customers decreases as the length of the line increases because there is a decreasing proportion of the population left to generate calls for service Service rates are required to be exponential 18-32 . Finite-Source Model Appropriate for cases in which the calling population is limited to a relatively small number of potential calls Arrival rates are required to be Poisson Unlike the infinite-source models.

Compute the service factor. U. population size b. Using the value of X as the point of entry. the number of servers/channels c. Finite-Source Model Procedure: 1. T. X=T/(T + U) 3. average service time d. find the values of D and F that correspond to M 5. Locate the section of the finite-queuing tables for N 4. D. M. and F as needed to determine the values of the desired measures of system performance 18-33 . average time between calls for service 2. M. X. Identify the values for a. Use the values of N. N.

Finite-Source Model 18-34 .

Constraint Management Managers may be able to reduce waiting lines by actively managing one or more system constraints: Fixed short-term constraints Facility size Number of servers Short-term capacity options Use temporary workers Shift demand Standardize the service Look for a bottleneck 18-35 .

Psychology of Waiting If those waiting in line have nothing else to occupy their thoughts. they often tend to focus on the fact they are waiting in line They will usually perceive the waiting time to be longer than the actual waiting time Steps can be taken to make waiting more acceptable to customers Occupy them while they wait In-flight snack Have them fill out forms while they wait Make the waiting environment more comfortable Provide customers information concerning their wait 18-36 .

instead of increasing the number of servers Use new processing equipment and/or methods Reduce processing time variability through standardization Shift demand 18-37 . Operations Strategy Managers must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of service system capacity alternatives Options for reducing wait times: Work to increase processing rates.

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