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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

Global Shift Patterns

Friday, 04 May 2012 14:33

When you have a global organisation and some operations require individuals from around the world working together you can create a global shift pattern. One organisation we recently worked with wanted to combine their European and American call centres. They wanted to keep both sets of workers but have them working together even though they were in different time zones. This meant that the teams would work together and through the use of video links would be able to communicate with each other during the shift, as if they were in the same office.

The advantage of this operation is that the workloads for the two call centres were different.  This was due to the time zone differences, and the workload was random, so predicting the workload and having additional operators during busy times was impractical. Since the probability of both call centres being busy at the same time was low, combining the workload was an ideal solution to doubling up both call centres. So now if a call came in from America or Europe it could be answered by either team and reduce call waiting times.

However a shift pattern had to be devised so that the two teams could work together and that the time difference did not mean that the shifts started and finished in the middle of the night. The two groups were put onto the same shift pattern but with different start and finish times, the holidays were incorporated to minimise disruption and cover arrangements were made between the two teams so that the Americans could cover for the Europeans in case of sickness.

The result was, lower call waiting times, lower workloads for both teams, better communication globally, more quality time off, more opportunities for training and project work.

 

Incorporating Regular Overtime

Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:39

One way to cope with holidays and absences is to use overtime. The advantages of this are that you don’t need to employ additional workers or train up individuals if the skill set is rare. The disadvantages are that it is expensive with overtime rates usually being between 1.5 to 2 times basic rate, and there is the problem of overworking the individuals. When an individual is already working between 37 to 48 hours per week, creating a shift pattern which gives the individual a good work-life balance, meets the Working Time Directive, and allows for additional overtime, can be problematic.

DDCNN Shift Pattern

We have created four different shift patterns to cope with this. Using 8-hour shifts you extend the shifts on each side of the missing shift by 4 hours to cover.   Using 12-hour shifts it is often impractical to extend the shifts therefore whole cover shifts must be added. On the 232 shift pattern the cover shifts are worked between the days and nights, so that both day and night shifts can be covered. This allows an individual to work up to 63 hours per week regularly. However they will be working up to seven consecutive shifts.  On the 3on-3off shift pattern again the cover shifts can be worked between the day and night shifts. Again this allows the individual to work up to 63 hours per week regularly. However they will be working up to nine consecutive shifts.  The fourth option is a shift pattern based on the 4on-4off, this shift pattern is depicted on the right. The individual works two days, one cover, two nights, three off. This is an eight day rotation and allows an individual to work up to 52.5 hours per week regularly. However they will only be working up to five consecutive shifts.

On all of these options everyone does not have to work all of the overtime shifts every week. Individuals can select a proportion of overtime shifts they would be willing to work each year; these are then incorporated into the shift pattern at the start of the year. This way the company always has overtime shifts available and the shift workers always have guaranteed dates when they will not be required to work.

 

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