Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Learn about Operations Research in a video

This is a great introduction video to operations research - created by INFORMS.

Supply Chain Management concept explained in a video

This is a great video about supply chain management. Despite the dramatic effects, it's quite to the point about supply chain management.

Short and sweet, and to the point!

Supply Chain Management is "making businesses more efficient, and helping businesses create a more efficient world".

Supply Chain Management Review (SCMR)

Supply Chain Management Review - Dedicated to the art and science of moving goods to market

I stumbled upon this website today, and I really liked the tag line "Dedicated to the art and science of moving goods to market". That is what Supply Chain Management is all about.

Check it out if you've got a moment. It has all kinds of articles on SCM.

Friday, February 22, 2008

OR in Hospitals: Hospitalist

Hospitalists are Doctors, Physician Assistants or Nurse Practitioners whose primary professional focus is hospital medicine.

As noted in other medical journals, there is a shift of responsibility of in-hospital patients from his/her primary care physician (PCP) to the hospitalists.
  • It allows the primary care physicians to see more patients in their offices
  • The hospitalists are more well equipped in dealing with important functions such as transitioning patients between healthcare settings. Such transfer requires coordinating tests, lab work, and medicines and conferring with other doctors, specialists, social workers, and case managers.
What does that spell to you? Operations Management! 

Specialization of workers to increase efficiency and to meet high demand.

At the moment, Wikipedia noted that this type of medical practice has so far not extended beyond the US. Although, articles suggest that Canada is also starting to have more and more of them. It's noted that more and more community hospitals and major academic centers employ hospitalists. It could be due to the fact that the lack of family physicians have created a lot of 'orphaned' patients who are arriving at the hospitals without a PCP. On those occasions, the hospitalists have to act as their most responsible physician.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Starbucks and OR

Here is something that most people can relay to: Starbucks.
Being one of the largest and most well known brands in the world in the food and beverage industry, Starbucks relies heavily on operations research as well. Here is quoting from an article I found online:

Retiring executive vice president Ted Garcia joined Starbucks in 1995 as senior vice president, Logistics & Manufacturing. Through his prior experience developing manufacturing and logistics networks, as well as information systems and technology platforms, he was able to establish programs for Starbucks that have delivered savings totaling more than $250 million. These savings were achieved through consolidated global purchasing leverage, conversion cost reductions, reduced logistics costs and lower inventory levels. Additionally, Garcia was responsible for the development of three new roasting plants in York, Pa., Carson Valley, Nev. and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Under Garcia's leadership, Starbucks became known as an established leader in supply chain activities.

Here is a little profile of Dorothy Kim - Starbucks Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Operations:

She is responsible for the day-to-day activities of SCCO, which include the global strategic business management of manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, distribution, planning and transportation; supply chain integrated systems; inventory management and worldwide sourcing of coffee. She will report to Jim Donald, ceo designate.

Kim joined Starbucks in 1995, where she gained four years of retail planning and operations experience prior to transitioning to SCCO. She held the positions of vice president, SCCO Logistics, and vice president, SCCO Finance & Systems, before her promotion to senior vice president, Global Logistics & Procurement. Kim was instrumental in leading the development of Starbucks SCCO Systems Vision and Master Project Plan.

Info from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2004_Dec_14/ai_n8570893

Friday, February 15, 2008

OR in the News: Golfer performance predictor

Professor Martin Puterman's research is featured in Globe and Mail on Feb 7, 2008;

What's the most valid predictor of a golfer's performance?

Professor Martin Puterman and his research assistant, Stefan Wittman, at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business recently completed a study that helps answer these questions. Meanwhile, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger made some decisions that bear on this discussion.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are you an OR practitioner? List yourself!

Yes, there is a directory for OR professionals!


Are you an Operations Research practitioner?
OR Specialist, OR Consultant, OR Analyst... all the OR People, list yourself on the OR directory!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who is using OR methods and How

You often hear people in the OR field say that operations research is very broad, it can be applied to everything and every industry. However, keep in mind that it is often only in big corporations and organizations that one would expect to see OR specialists/analysts/consultants/etc.

So what fields/industries/corporations/companies/organizations/institutions do you know of that observe and practice OR?

To name a few...
  • Healthcare: in Vancouver, BC, we have the Fraser Health Authority and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority; in Victoria, BC, there is the Vancouver Island Health Authority. They use OR to aid decision making in personnel scheduling, facility planning, resource management in general, and process design
  • Manufacturing: auto, aviation...
  • IT
  • Telecommunications
  • Agriculture
  • Finance: OR used for forecasting, portfolio management, personal consumption management
  • Service & Retail: restaurants, franchise, retail stores, etc. use OR for pricing, inventory management, process design
  • Military: of course this is the birthplace of OR
  • Mining
  • Shipping & Transportation
  • Waste Management: routing systems
What else can you think of? How do you use OR?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What is Operations Research

Quoting from Wikipedia, Operations Research is:
an interdisciplinary branch of applied mathematics which uses methods like mathematical modeling, statistics, and algorithms to arrive at optimal or good decisions in complex problems which are concerned with optimizing the maxima (profit, faster assembly line, greater crop yield, higher bandwidth, etc) or minima (cost loss, lowering of risk, etc) of some objective function. The eventual intention behind using operations research is to elicit a best possible solution to a problem mathematically, which improves or optimizes the performance of the system.

Another definition of OR, given at one of the Plenaries at the last INFORMS Meeting (Seattle 2007).
A path was defined to unify Industrial Engineering, Operations Reaearch, Operations Management, etc as "Operations Engineering". The preferred was "Operations Science and Engineering" but I like the idea of having a distinct name for what is research from what is practice and application.

From ScienceOfBetter.org:
In a nutshell, operations research (O.R.) is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions.

By using techniques such as mathematical modeling to analyze complex situations, operations research gives executives the power to make more effective decisions and build more productive systems based on:
  • More complete data
  • Consideration of all available options
  • Careful predictions of outcomes and estimates of risk
  • The latest decision tools and techniques
To define our profession is one of the most difficult things - so I've found.

What is your definition? How do you think we should be "marketed"? Post your comment.

Welcome to ThinkOR - The Operations Research Blog

ThinkOR - Think Operations Research is a blog dedicated to the OR field.

ThinkOR welcomes all operations research professionals, academias, and any interested parties to come together and discuss and post your views, opinions, and ideas on operations research.

It is the gathering of the minds to talk about the methods of OR, applications, new ideas, etc. It serves as an exchange corner for the OR professionals, and an information source for the general public.

At this moment in time, there is very little information on OR for the general public to even know about what OR is. We hope that with this little space on the web, ThinkOR.org will be able to provide this type of information from a very personal view through the participation of all interested parties.