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T: 01636 816 466

The Old Vicarage
Station Road, Rolleston
NG23 5SE                              

Operational Research

You can always be more efficient

Operational Research is all about using analysis to improve decision making. Dr Angela Moore uses mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, optimisation, sequencing and scheduling techniques to create simple heuristics you can employ to run your operation more efficiently.

Why managing shifts is like managing a football team?


You may not realise how similar a shift operation is to a football team. You will notice that in football 11 players are out there on the pitch during a game but there are generally 30 or so players available to be picked for each game. So why do they need so many players? Why not just have 11 excellent players and just use them for every game?

In football, not all of the players can play every game, this is because of risk of injury, fatigue etc. Hence there is a large ratio of available players to people who are out there on the pitch. The same is true for shift workers. On any shift, not all of the workers will be there. In a 24/7 operation generally there would be about one fifth of the shift workers on at anytime.

Nor can the manager play his best players in most games. They need to be spread out. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that every member of the team needs to be able to play with every other team member. To do this, they need to play regularly with everyone. Otherwise you may be playing in the World Cup and hesitate at a crucial moment because you don’t know your team mates as well as you should.  

Therefore the manager doesn’t choose to have the best players in every game, his aim is to have a consistent level of skill to ensure that the team scores better over the season than if you had all of your best players in every games.

The same is true for shift working. First, everyone needs to work with, and be familiar with, everyone else to ensure continuity of service and work. Second, each shift should have a good distribution of skill, so that the most skilled are not all in one team and the least skilled in another.

This is because you will make more money through a consistent level of service, than a random service, depending on which shift is scheduled to be on.

Third, everyone has holidays, everyone gets sick. When this happens, you don’t want the operation to suffer. Especially as it will be a frequent problem. So make sure that all of the shift workers can work together, just like a premier football team, to ensures the best operation possible.

If you would like to know more about improving your shift operation, please contact us today.