Improving reliability with optimal allocation of maintenance resources: an application to power distribution networks

Power distribution networks should strive for reliable delivery of energy. In this paper, we support this endeavor by addressing the Maintenance Resources Allocation Problem (MRAP). This problem consists of scheduling preventive maintenance plans on the equipment of distribution networks for a planning horizon, seeking the best trade-offs between system reliability and maintenance budgets. We propose a novel integer linear programming (ILP) formulation to effectively model and solve the MRAP for a single distribution network. The formulation also enables flexibility to suit new developments, such as different reliability metrics and smart-grid innovations. Then we develop a straightforward ILP formulation to address the MRAP for several distribution networks which takes the advantages of exchanging maintenance information between local agents and upper management. Using a general-purpose ILP solver, we performed computational experiments to assess the performance of the proposed approaches. Optimal maintenance trade-offs were achieved with the new formulations for real-scale distribution networks within short running times.