Operational Research

Operational Research Consultancy

Description Operations research is about taking decisions that deliver real benefit. It is in our opinion best to base decisions on applied advanced analytical methods rather than on implicit or unarticulated approaches. Our clients also think so. Since 1981 we have successfully performed numerous projects and developed several advanced planning systems which enable our clients to make better decisions. These 26 years of practical experience in applying OR is the core of our OR Consulting services. Our people bring together a vast experience in Operations research, Business knowledge and IT, which are the key components of our and our client’s success.

By using mathematical techniques to analyze complex decisions, Operations Research gives executives the power to make effective decisions and to build powerful systems to support them. These advanced planning systems:
• are based on a better understanding of the problem;
• use more complete data;
• considering all available options;
• use the latest decision support tools and techniques.

Today’s businesses are becoming more complex and competitive. Without the support of operations research it is difficult to select the best possible options or take the right decisions to gain an advantage on your competitors. Our Operations Research professionals our dedicated to help you, so you can make the better decisions.

Our OR Consultancy services
You can profit from our OR consulting services and improve your business like our customers did before you. We provide the following services:

• Professional consulting and mathematical modelling services.
• Custom development of advanced planning solutions and optimization software.

In each Operations research related project a model is used that is an abstract of the real world. The model must be detailed enough to support the decision that must be made, but also it must be easy enough to use in practice. It requires skill to find the right level of detail, or as Gerrit Timmer our CEO states “Modelling real world decisions is an Art”. Within our professional consulting services we make use of specialized software or develop custom models to support your decisions. In most of the cases the model is incorporated in an advanced planning system.

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Challenges OR Consulting
The decision to take or problem to solve is specific to your business and environment. It takes skill to find the right model but it also requires thorough business knowledge to understand the environment in which the decision must be taken. Both are the key focus of our approach and our OR consultants. We provide various consultancy services at each of our lines of industry. Our consultants have thorough business knowledge build up in practice in each of these industries and combine it with OR knowledge to provide you with the answers.

Our standardized approach when performing Operations research projects consists of the following steps:

  • Setting the scope, structuring the decision. The scope is set through discussions with key stakeholders. These discussions lead to insight into the problem to be solved but many times also identify underlying issues.
  • Gather and analyse data. The required data is gathered from relevant systems or plans. The nature of the data to be gathered depends on the type of problem under consideration. After discussing the results from the analysis the scope is reviewed.
  • Build and validate model. Having formulated the decision and validated the data the optimisation problem or model is formulated and validated. There is often an iteration with the data gathering stage as during the modelling new possibilities can arise that throw new light on the problem being analysed.
  • Optimization or scenario analysis. The model is run to allow identification of an optimal configuration. Often a predefined set of scenarios is used to identify how the optimal configuration depends on external factors. For example in optimising a logistic network it is important to be sure that the solution will be robust if patterns of demand changes.
  • Report and advice. In this final stage the results from the optimization phase are presented and discussed.
Not all projects run thru all of the above phases. Sometimes it is not necessary to build a model because the data analysis already is enough to solve the problem. For some of our customers we build the model and integrate it into their ICT systems. This is for example the case for an airline where we developed and maintain the operational revenue management system. These type solutions are provided by our Custom development service.

Solutions Lines of industry

Oil, gas and Chemicals: 

  • Benchmarking
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Distribution planning
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Supply chain optimization
Consumer Packaged Goods:
  • Distribution planning
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Supply chain optimization
Manufacturing and Construction:
  • Spare parts management
Trade, Transport and Logistics:

  • Strategic infrastructure design
  • Strategic network design
  • Distribution planning
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Vehicle routing
  • Benchmarking
  • Patient group optimization
  • Patient volume planning and control
Professional and Public Services:
  • Personal scheduling
  • Time tabling
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ORTEC Operational Research cases Airline
We supported the negotiations with the unions on a new collective labour agreement. We developed a decision support system that is used to evaluated different scenarios with respect to the working time rules of the collective agreement. By using the system our customer was able to get a deeper understanding on the consequences of changes in each of the parameters in the working time rules. Bases on the increased insight they were able to take better decisions for both employee and business.

Dutch Railway
Some time ago the Dutch railway changed the way in which the personal was assigned to trains to improve their overall performance. Drivers and gards were only assigned to trains around there home base, minimizing the effects of delays on the total network. This decision let to a nationwide strike that lasted several days. The gards and drivers, together with the unions argued that this would lead to less variation; also some of the personal would always work on trains that were socially unsafe. By using Operations research we were able to quantify the comments of the employees and objectives of the Dutch railway. By generating various network schedules and crew assignments we were able to supply alternatives that led to a better choice for the Dutch railway as well as its workforce.
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ORTEC Operational Research custom developments

Custom development arises when no ICT applications are available to support your requirements, or when they do not apply or are unsatisfactory to your business. Custom development could mean that specialized modules are added to your existing applications like an Enterprise resource planning system. For example adding advanced demand forecasting functionality. Also custom development could mean the development of a complete advanced planning suite that becomes the planning backbone driving your business. Like the planning and scheduling of a chemical plant, refinery or airline. Thru custom developed of advanced planning systems you can improve your business more than using the available standard software, moreover you can gain a competitive edge over your competitors because you can make better use of your opportunities.

To be able to support you we have a standardized approach when building custom made advanced planning systems. We have our own standards with respect to system development, if required we follow the standards your company uses or likes to use, like PRINCE2, SDM2, etc. Our standard approach to the development of advanced planning solutions consists of the following steps:

  • Setting the scope. The objectives and scope of the module or application is discussed and agreed upon. Based on these objectives a details plan is developed to design, build and release the advanced planning solution.
  • Requirements development. Using various techniques from the field of application development the functional requirements of the solution are identified and worked out in detail. During the requirements development also the User interface requirements are identified using a prototyping approach.
  • Architecture and detailed design. The functional design is used to design the system architecture. Each of the functional requirements is worked out into technical requirements and data structures leading to a detailed technical design.
  • Build, Test, integrate and release of the advanced planning system. The application is build and tested. After being tested thoroughly it is released. The integration with your other ICT systems is an important issue, since in most cases the advanced planning solution is depended on the data from your other systems.
  • Maintenance and Support. After release the application is maintained and supported by either your own organisation or us. The level and performance of the required support is specified in a service level agreement.

ORTEC has performed numerous custom development projects successfully since 1981. They range from highly strategic to real time advanced planning systems. See our cases for some examples of the projects we have performed. Not all projects run thru all of the above phases. Based on partnership, your company and ORTEC decide together which approach is best.

Custom development projects

  • SunWeb
  • BusCom
  • NedTrain
  • Marinewerf
  • Shell
  • KLM

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