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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.

angela@oranalysts.com

Blog

Flexible Capacity

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 15:31

Businesses need to be able to respond to market demand faster than ever before. Demand is getting harder and harder to predict and organizations, be they businesses, hospitals or public bodies, need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently. If a business does not respond quickly, they lose the order. If a business does not respond efficiently, they lose money.  If a business does not respond, they will go out of business.

If a hospital does not respond to new demands for services, patients will go untreated and some will die unnecessarily.

If a public body, be it a council or government department does not respond, the public will lose confidence in the authority and vote it out of office, or even worse go to the newspapers.

Getting the right people in the right place at the right time, and being able to change the staffing flexibly and quickly depends upon many factors. Being able to predict demand is one such factor, being able to react to the predicted demand is much more difficult. If the demand is variable and uncertain, the planned response must also be variable and cover each element of uncertainty. This will involve short and long term labour planning.

One traditional solution is to use overtime and temporary labour to cover fluctuations in demand. In many situations this response is adequate and a 'pool' of workers are on stand-by. Unfortunately, this approach is not flexible enough in the new market conditions. There is only a finite level of extra capacity this can deliver in a given situation, and there are many hidden drawbacks to relying on using overtime and temps.

The overtime tends to become institutionalised and abused, and becomes a fixed cost rather than a flexible cost.

Temps need training and the constant need for training to use continually changing technology can make them more expensive than having full time staff.

Multi-Strategy solutions require IT methods and resources. Flexible working that meets the flexible workload requires a variable planned response where all the elements of using labour are utilised. Having a pool of multi-skilled and specialist, full-time workers, part-time workers, annualised hours to vary the working week, overtime and temporary labour on variable contracts, are all used to expand and contract capacity to meet the demand curve.

A report on official statistics shows that nearly 10% of all UK employees working for less than 45 hours per week, would like to work more hours. This figure only reflects those who want to work at basic rates and excludes the sizeable number who would work at overtime rates. This means that you could get more work out of your employees without having to pay them a premium. The statistics also revealed that more part-time than full-time employees wanted longer hours. And of this group, those in the 35-49 age group wanted longer hours the most. This is ideal if you are looking to increase production or provide a greater range of services - by considering part-timers first, you are less likely to have to pay overtime and won't have to worry about exceeding the 48 hours per week limit.

VisualrotaX and C-Desk Technology gives you that flexible capacity capability. If you would like to create a flexible response to your workload, then contact us on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or phone us on (+44) 01636 816466

 

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 11:28

 

This old saying comes from the idea that what you rose up into the air will eventually return to Earth under gravity.

However this saying has other applications. In the world of shift patterns, there is a flexible working technique called Banked Hours. Banked Hours are used as part of a system call ‘Annualised Hours’ which makes rostering people much easier to do. Banked Hours enable the shift worker and the company to Bank Hours which can be used at another time for a specific purpose. E.g. used to cover absences and training.

Everyone has an individual number of Banked Hours which can change depending on what they work and what they are scheduled to work. Hours can be added and taken away from the Bank at any time over the year.

Therefore your banked Hours can go up as well as down.

So you start the year with 100 Banked Hours. You are asked to cover for an absent colleague. 12-hour shifts are used, so your Banked Hours are reduced by 12 to 88 hours. Then you want to take a weekend off using Banked Hours instead of holidays. Two 12-hour shifts, increases your Banked Hours to 112.

This will continue throughout the year. Eventually resulting in all of your remaining Banked Hours being zeroed at the end of year.

A Banked Hours system works because the company get a flexible working arrangement which allows them to call in people to cover for unexpected events. From the shift workers perspective, they provide a flexible working arrangement to cover these unexpected events and in return get some extra time off which they are paid for.

Each year is different and depends on multiple factors, some years you will be very lucky and can end up with about two weeks of extra time off per year which is paid. At other times they may end up with nothing extra.

Each year the Banked Hours needs to be reviewed to see if they are still working for everyone.

If you would like to know more about Banked Hours follow this link or buy our kindle book on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

Around the World in 80 days!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 11:32

At the time when Phileas Fogg went around the world, a man of independent means was not that uncommon. However today most of us are not so lucky! Taking 80 days off work is harder than travelling around the world in the Victorian era.

So if you would like to recreate Fogg’s heroic journey, besides money (you can do it for less than £20,000), you need to ensure that you still have a job to come back too.

So you could take a sabbatical or some other unpaid leave option. Or you could have 80 days off and still get paid!

It’s easy, you just need a holidays included shift pattern and then swap a few shifts with your colleagues. On 12-hour shifts you get over 200 days off so putting 80 days together is a doddle.

Here is one I did earlier!

80 days

As you can see in this version you get slightly more than 80 days off, so you have time to pack and do you laundry before you go back to work. I’ve highlighted the long break in orange. And you can’t really say you would be over worked on this shift pattern either. You still get a few four and five day breaks during the rest of the year.

If you would like to know how to book your trip contact us for the shift pattern and your local travel agent! If you would like to know more about holidays included shift patterns, then our books are available from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alec-Jezewski/e/B00O59OWS8/

 

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