Contact Details

If you require further information on any of our services please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone or e-mail. All enquiries are extremely welcome.

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.


Working at the Weekend?

Friday, 09 October 2015 17:12

There are lots of different approaches to weekend working. Some use 8-hour shifts, and some use 12-hour shifts. Some just have on call and some use a skeleton crew. So how the weekends are manned is a result of the workload and how the organisation would like to meet that workload.

Using 12-hour Shifts

Now if you are working 8-hour shifts, you might like to consider 12-hour shifts at your next shift pattern review. Provided 12-hour shifts would not be too fatiguing at weekends, then they are possible. Working 12-hours at weekends will reduce the number of weekend shifts by a third. So if you were down to work 3 out of 4 weekends (not uncommon on an 8-hour arrangement), on a 12-hours arrangement you would be down to work 2 out of 4 weekends. Or to think about it another way, over the year, on 8-hour shifts you could be expected to work 78 shifts at weekends, however on 12-hour shifts you could be expected to work 52 shifts at weekends.

Split Weekends

Split weekends are another aspect of weekend working. Some people like split weekends. On one occasion while talking to some shift workers during a shift pattern review I said “and another benefit is that you no longer have to work split weekends”, to which one person replied “how do you know that’s a benefit?” Split weekends mean that you are working during more weekends, however you still get one day off, so provided you are not going away then split weekends may be seen as a benefit.

The 4on-4off is a good example of split weekends. It works on an eight day rotation, and since eight does not go into seven, it inevitably leads to split weekends. However it is very popular. It works very well as a shift pattern until holidays are taken. If you are using a 4on-4off shift pattern then it is very difficult to cover holidays in-house. This is because of the split weekends. You only get two whole weekends off out of eight on the 4on-4off, so getting people to come in and cover for absent colleagues at weekends is a trifle difficult. Not impossible, but there are easier options.

So when it comes to organising weekend working, you also need to consider not just what happens when everyone is in, but how you will cover for holidays and absences at weekends. This is one of the reasons why the 232 is so popular. Not only does it mean that people just work two or three shifts consecutively, but also it has alternating weekends off and there is lots of opportunity to work overtime without becoming fatigued.  

Weekends Working

So if you do work or are thinking about extending your hours to weekend working, here are a few things to consider:

  • What is your workload at weekends?
  • Can you get away with a skeleton crew?
  • Can you cope with just on-call?
  • Could you man it through volunteers and overtime payments?
  • Do you need a permanent presence?
  • Do you need the same skills at weekends?
  • Do you need them to work 24hours or could you cope with less?
  • Do you mind using split weekends?
  • Do you want to use 12-hour shifts?
  • How are you going to cover holidays at weekends?
  • What will happen if someone fails to turn up at weekends?
  • Who will oversee the operation at weekends?
  • How will they get access to the building?
  • How will they eat? Is there a kitchen, cafeteria?

National Poetry Day

Thursday, 08 October 2015 13:34


Happy National Poetry Day!


Here is a little ditty for you.

“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,

I’m half-crazy ‘cause Tommy’s got the flu!

He won’t be here tomorrow, or the day after that.

But if you are sweet, and fill in the cover sheet,

I’ll give you some days off in lieu!”

Remember if you are having problems because of absence, we are running a business development course to help you. If you would like to book a place or for more information please contact us via email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call +44 (0) 1636 816466

Proactive Absence Management

Proactive absence management covers mitigating the effect of absence on your business. Absences are expensive and time consuming. Each time someone is missing, you have to make a decision about how you will cover for their absence. Last minute absences can be especially expensive and difficult to cover. However we can teach you how to minimise the cost of absence.

Everyone is entitled to their holidays, and there is a lot of holidays to fit into one year. Trying to organise holiday cover is a full time job, and not a very popular one.

In this one day seminar learn how to fit everyone’s annual leave into your shift schedule and cover for any eventuality. Learn how to cover for absences without using overtime. Work out your staffing budget and learn how to stick to it.

Proactive absence management is about anticipating your absences and learning how to mitigate their effect. We will teach you how to ensure that you always have the correct number of staff, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time.

Location: Central London, UK

One Day Business Development Course: Includes lunch and a goodie bag, cost is £995 +VAT per person

New Dates: 23rd February & 27th September 2016


Christmas is Coming

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 15:20

The build up to Christmas has now started in the shops, it won’t be long before “Jingle bells” will be blearing out up and down our high streets. But for Christmas producers it’s a yearlong process with the run up starting back in January, with designs and organising the production and supplies.

“I have been trying to ignore all of those little Christmas bits and pieces which have started to appear in the shops, it makes me feel cold.”

Christmas is one of those events that is not just one day, it’s a seasonal variation that can be felt by nearly every industry. Shops have to change their product lines, and then have sales to get rid of their excess stock. Producers can’t produce things fast enough so overtime goes through the roof. And the poor consumers, have to save up all year, so that they can splash out on the latest gadgets and toys, yet still be broke in January.

Most companies recognise that Christmas is a seasonal variation and will change their operations to account for it. They may change their product lines or sales tactics. But how many have thought of changing their staffing levels to reflect this variation?

Generally, those that do, use overtime. Overtime is wonderful, in the run up to Christmas. Everyone needs that extra money, and during the autumn the weather is poor so they have lots of spare time on their hands.

However you could change your staffing levels over the year and only pay basic rates. It’s simple, you create your shift pattern a year ahead. Then you run the shift pattern so that everyone works a few hours less during part of the year and then a few hours more when you need them. Over all their hours come out the same.

e.g. your staff work a 40 hour week and you have 20 people let’s say. That’s 800 hours per week of work you can expect. Yet your workload has a seasonal variation. So let’s say you make Christmas puddings. They have a very long sale by date. So you would make them from about May to September. So that is about five months of production per year. It would be a continuous production business, so would operate 24/7. The rest of the year you make a few other things so you want a few people around, but for the Christmas puddings period you really need about 1000 hours of production per week. So how do you do it?

Well firstly you look at holidays, as an employer you have control over when your employees have a holiday, so you can have a ban on holidays during your busy periods. However, you need them to work about 50 hours per week, so even banning holidays won’t solve the problem.

So you need to use 12 hour shifts and then they would have to work just over 4 shifts per week. So you would run the operation with a variation of the 554 shift pattern. For 20 week of the year they would work the 554, and six would be in on the day and night shift seven days a week. Then for the other 32 weeks they would work a slightly different variation so that only four of them would be in on each shift. Over the year they would work an average of 40 hours per week.

Variation 554 v1

An example of the annual shift pattern for one person is shown here. January to May they work the 554 with seven days off in between. Then for 20 weeks they work the 554 with just a few days off between blocks of shifts. Between September and December they are back on the 554 with seven days off in-between.

During September to May they get lots of time off and all their holidays, so they can have some great skiing holidays, cruises round the Caribbean, pop over to Australia etc.

This is an easy to implement example, and it can work for any company that has a seasonal variation. If you would like a shift pattern tailored to your personal requirements, why not contact us today and reduce your overtime bill! Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us on +44 (0)1636 816466


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