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North Western OR - Join in!

Welcome to the North Western OR Society pages on which we’ll be posting comments, information, news of our events and activities, reports of meetings and other interesting features.

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Recent Blog Posts

Monday, 18 Feb 2019
Tony Hines

AMAZON Fulfillment Centre Visit (Altrincham -Nr. Manchester Airport)

Wednesday 6th March 2019 @ 2pm

SAT NAV Post Code M90 5AA

We will assemble in the visitor Car Park at 13.50 for a prompt start at 2pm. The tour takes a couple of hours and you are advised to wear comfortable flat shoes. If anyone booking has special accessibility requirements we can let Amazon know if you email me directly or ou can provide details on the booking page in a message to the organiser.

Please note there is limited availability for the visit and a waiting list is in operation once all places have been booked. If you book and later find that you can no longer attend please cancel your place so it can be released to those on the waiting list.

This promises to be an informative afternoon giving insights into Amazon's customer fulfillment operations and the wider UK supply chain. 

Please register for the event here:

Look forward to seeing you there.

Professor Tony Hines NWORG Chair


Wednesday, 23 Jan 2019
Tony Hines

Our last meeting held in Liverpool on 12th December 2018 organised jointy with University of Liverpool, HMRC and BAM had a number of speakers focusing their attentions on the 'Applications of Big Data and Analytics'. Claire Potter from HMRC demonstrated how HMRC was using predictive analytics to improve taxpayer behaviour. Dark Data and Social Media Analytics was the topic of interest for Dr Shaibal Roy from PA Consulting Group followed by an interesting look at how satellite data has been used in supply chain management by Dr Gopal Narayanamurthy from the University of Liverpool. Also from the University of Liverpool we were entertained as well as informed by Professor Ian McHale's research of how big data and analytics are used to  predict the outcome of football matches using algorithms to evaluate the performance and contributions of individual players and their influence on the final result outcome. Stuart Whittle from Weighmans LLP gave some insights to how a legal practice is using analytics to plan workloads. The final presentation was given by Shakeel Khan and Qasim Sultan from HMRC talking about building data science capability in Pakistan. There was ample time for questions expertly chaired by Dr Fotios Misopoulis from the Management School at University of Liverpool. Thanks also to Eleni Vakouftsi from HMRC who worked hard to make the day a success. It was a good opportunity for networking and I am sure everyone who attended got something from the day.

6th March 2019 Amazon Visit Altrincham 2pm

We start 2019 with a visit to Amazon's Warehouse at Altrincham on Wednesday 6th March at 2pm where we will be treated to an inside look behind the scenes at operations to deliver customer service. Full details of how to book your place for the visit will be coming soon. Wathch this space!


15th May 2019 Visit to the Hartree Centre Daresbury 3pm 







Hartree is a centre within the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation. They have agreed to host and present to a NWORG meeting at Daresbury in 2019. Backed by over £170 million of government funding and significant strategic partnerships? with organisations such as IBM and Atos, the Hartree Centre is home to some of the most technically advanced high performance computing, data analytics, machine learning technologies and experts in the UK.
Look forward to seeing you at NWORG in 2019.
Best wishes,
Professor Tony Hines NWORG Chair





Monday, 10 Dec 2018
Tony Hines

Further to the announcement of this joint meeting at the NWORG AGM here are the details for the meeting on 'Applications of Big Data Analystics'. If you want to book a place follow the link below. The event is organised by the Agility Centre of University of Liverpool Management School in collaboration with the British Academy of Management, the HMRC Liverpool office, and the Operational Research Society.

Further details and booking:


Current technological advances allow organisations to collect, store, and analyse data in a manner that enables cost and time reductions, development of new products and services, and in general, a smarter decision making. The applications emerging from this Big Data “revolution” cover a wide range of areas and industries. This conference aims at informing participants of the value and benefits that accrue from utilising Big Data and Analytics by demonstrating successful applications across a variety of industries.

Benefits of Attendance

• Understanding the required technology for Big Data applications
• An acquaintance of how Big Data Analytics can improve decision-making
• Insights into successful applications of Big Data Analytics
• Opportunity for networking


  • Claire Potter, HMRC - Influencing Outcomes – can we use predictive analytics to improve Taxpayer behaviour?

  • Dr Shaibal Roy, PA Consulting Group - Dark Data and social media analytics

  • Dr Gopal Narayanamurthy, University of Liverpool – Satellite Data for Supply Chain Management

  • Prof. Ian McHale, University of Liverpool –Big Data and Analytics in Sports

  • Stuart Whittle, Weightmans LLP - Ideas Around Using Data and Predictive Analytics in Real World Settings

  • Shakeel Khan and Qasim Sultan, HMRC - A Journey to Support Data Science Capability Building in Pakistan

Tuesday, 23 Oct 2018
Tony Hines

You can find out more and book tickets for this event here.

The NWORG AGM will take place at this meeting. Full details for the event are below:

15.30-16.30 Dr Steve Finlay will speak on Ethical and Legal Issues of Automated Decision Making

16.45-17.15 AGM

17.15-18.00 Networking with refreshments


Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are having an ever increasing impact on our lives. This presentation discusses some of the ethical and legal issues associated with automated decision making systems, driven by machine learning and predictive models. It also provides a risk assessment framework for assessing the potential risks of such systems, together with a view of the impact of the recent implementation of the GDPR in EU countries.


Biography of speaker


Dr Finlay is a machine learning specialist (data scientist) and author, with more than twenty years’ experience of working for a range of public and private sector organisations. He is currently the Head of Analytics at Computershare Loan Services (CLS), were he is responsible for developing industry leading analytical solutions for the financial services industry. He is also a visiting research fellow at the Lancaster University Management School.


The third edition of his book: "Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Business. A No-Nonsense Guide to Data Driven Technologies" was published by Relativistic in July 2018.

We look forward to welcoming you to our NWORG Meeting.

Best regards,

Prof. Tony Hines NWORG Chair



Monday, 21 May 2018
Tony Hines

Simulation Modelling in the Era of Big Data

Date and Time

Wed 30 May 2018

12:00 – 16:30 BST

Alliance Manchester Business School Dover Street Building, Room 1.037 (first floor), M13 9GB




A combined event organized by SIG Simulation, Decision and Cognitive Sciences Research Centre (DCSRC), and North West OR Group (NWORG). Prof Paul Fishwick’s visit to the UK is funded by the Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship award with University of Exeter Business School.



12:00-13:00: Lunch and registration

13:00-14:00: Paul Fishwick (UT Dallas) - The Art and Science of Modelling

14:00-14:30: Andi Smart (Exeter) – Enhancing Visitor Experience at Cultural Heritage Sites: Hybrid Systems Approach Incorporating Gaze-time Data with Computer Simulation

14:30-15:00: Nathan Proudlove (Manchester) - Modelling Patient Flows: Developing BPMN for Fit-for-purpose Operational Flow Mapping

15:00-15:30: Break

15:00-16:00: Enabling Real-time Simulation using Symbiotic Simulation, NHSquicker and Demand Forecasting (Navonil Mustafee (Exeter), Alisson Harper (Exeter) and Stephan Onggo (Trinity College Dublin)

16:00-16:30: Closing (informal discussion + tea/coffee + we may go to a pub afterward)


Programme Detail

The Art and Science of Modelling (Paul Fishwick, UT Dallas)

One of the characteristics of being human is to model. In our history, we began with representations of animals made from natural materials, and painted on cave walls. We also made regular marks on animal bones. While the modern accounting of these products is art (animal representations) and mathematics (bone marks), a more comprehensive understanding points to modelling in both cases. We saw or imagined things, and then we made models of our experience. This talk will be a non-technical, cross-disciplinary, introduction to modelling. I will discuss (1) the history of modelling, (2) a way of thinking about modelling using three broad categories, (3) the notion that computer and information science is a form of modelling, and (4) approaches to modelling across disciplines – from art and humanities to business, science, and engineering.

BIOGRAPHY: Paul Fishwick is Distinguished University Chair of Arts and Technology (ATEC), and Professor of Computer Science. He has six years of industry experience as a systems analyst working at Newport News Shipbuilding and at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. He was on the faculty at the University of Florida from 1986 to 2012, and was Director of the Digital Arts and Sciences Programs. His PhD was in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Fishwick is active in modelling and simulation, as well as in the bridge areas spanning art, science, and engineering. He pioneered the area of aesthetic computing, resulting in an MIT Press edited volume in 2006. He is a Fellow of the Society for Computer Simulation, served as General Chair of the Winter Simulation Conference (WSC), was a WSC Titan Speaker in 2009, and has delivered over 24 keynote addresses at international conferences. He was Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group in Simulation (SIGSIM) four years from 2012 to 2016. Fishwick has over 230 technical publications and has served on all major archival journal editorial boards related to simulation, including ACM Transactions on Modeling and Simulation (TOMACS) where he was a founding area editor of modelling methodology in 1990. He is CEO of Metaphorz, LLC which assists the State of Florida in its catastrophe modelling software engineering auditing process for risk-based simulation for hurricanes and floods.


Enhancing Visitor Experience at Cultural Heritage Sites: Hybrid Systems Approach Incorporating Gaze-time Data with Computer Simulation (Andi Smart, Exeter)

The VISTA AR project (Interreg FCE programme) focuses on the use of digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience and to develop innovative business models for cultural heritage sites. This talk focuses on the development of a hybrid systems model using visitor intelligence (VI), gaze-time and computer simulation. VI tools are focused on understanding the visitor journey and experience. The visitor journey analysis includes assessing dwell-time and gaze-time.

A pilot study was undertaken in Exeter cathedral to capture the customer journey and included the use of eye-tracking technology to capture gaze-time of particular artefacts. The analysis of gaze duration was undertaken using heat-maps, which were indicative of the visitors' attention and interest. A particular challenge is communicating these results to management. A simulation model was developed to allow the presentation of the visitor journey. This allows management to observe the pattern of visitor journeys and the interest in different artefacts. The simulation model conforms to a ‘hybrid’ approach in that the data exported from the vision analysis software (Tobii Pro) directly informs duration activity (dwell-time and gaze-time). The sequence within the model is also derived from the vision data. A Discrete Event Simulation (DES) model, superimposed on a map of the building, was constructed using this data.


Modelling patient flows: Developing BPMN for fit-for-purpose operational flow mapping (Nathan Proudlove, Manchester)

Process mapping is a central tool in the understanding, improvement and design of processes. Different approaches have developed within different disciplines, in particular Value Stream Mapping in operations management, Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) in enterprise information systems, and activity cycle/process flow diagrams for discrete-event simulation (DES) in operational research. Mapping patient pathways is a key tool in healthcare quality improvement, sometimes as a precursor to DES modelling. However, there is little formal guidance or widely-used approach. This work arises from projects involving process mapping in several hospitals. We find that BPMN tools are potentially very useful and provide nascent automated links to DES modelling for process improvement, but the treatment of important issues in flow (in particular queues/buffers/waste) is naïve and restrictive. We propose that some extensions to the BPMN object set to bring in operations management thinking and accommodate flow structures as found in, for example, hospitals, would produce a powerful, fit-for-purpose process mapping toolkit.


Enabling Real-time Simulation using Symbiotic Simulation, NHSquicker and Demand Forecasting (Navonil Mustafee (Exeter) and Stephan Onggo (Trinity College Dublin)

Symbiotic simulation is one of Industry 4.0 technologies that enables a close relationship between a physical system and the simulation model that represents it as its digital twin. Symbiotic simulation is designed to support decision making at the operational levels by making use of real- or near real- time data which are only available after the simulation model has been developed. From the modelling perspective, a symbiotic simulation system comprises a hybrid model that combines simulation, optimization and machine learning models as well as a data acquisition module and an actuator. The actuator is needed when the symbiotic simulation system is designed to directly control the physical system without any human intervention. This talk reviews the components of a symbiotic simulation system from the perspective of hybrid modelling. Examples within health care will be presented including NHSQuicker, demand forecasting for urgent care, and hospital bed management.

Tuesday, 3 Apr 2018
Tony Hines

The next NWORG Meeting is in Manchester on Wednesday 18th April 2018. Full details are given in the link below.

The event focuses on policy in HMRC and the role of OR in analysing and evaluating policy measures. 

Book Your Place Now at the link below:-

Our speakers all have experience of dealing with policy evaluation in HMRC applying OR. Look forward to welcoming you.

Speaker profiles:-

Claire Breeze (FORS), KAI Direct Business Taxes Team, HMRC.

Member of Government Operational Research Service (GORS) for 11 years. Leads a time of operational researchers and statisticians delivering tax policy analysis for partnerships and companies.
In 2013 the Coalition Government announced two measures to counter commonly used structures involving partnership that gave rise to a tax advantage for the individuals involved. The two measures were expected to raise £0.6 billion year. The original estimates were known to be highly uncertain, OBR commissioned HMRC to evaluate the impact. The challenge for OR was to structure an evaluation methodology, review assumptions made in 2013 and work with tax policy colleagues and OBR to provide a robust evaluation.

Rosa Romita, KAI Direct Business Taxes Team, HMRC.

Member of Government Operational Research Service (GORS) since June 2017, previously worked in NHS Digital and as physicist for CERN.
Works on Large Businesses, both delivering tax policy analysis and understanding taxpayer behaviour.  
“Large Businesses” refers to the over 2,000 largest businesses that pay a significant proportion of the total business taxes and duties collected by HMRC. The Large Business database gives Senior Civil Servants a clear cross tax picture and helps them make informed decisions on compliance and policies. Large Businesses data is held in different databases, accessed by different people, with different identifiers for the Large Businesses and their entities. To build the Large Business database, the relevant information, such as tax receipts, ultimate country of ownership and risk scoring, is selected from different data sources. All data sources are then joined together through a ‘spine’, which makes adding additional data sources straightforward. The final tool is an Excel spreadsheet, with tables and charts built to easily get insight of data. I will present how the database is designed and built, together with examples of its uses in both monitoring compliance and informing policies.


David McDonald, KAI Personal Taxes Team, HMRC.

Member of Government Operational Research Service since January 2017. Works on National Insurance Contributions policy analysis.
HMRC make use of sector information, Standard Industry Classifications (SIC), as part of our analysis. One challenge we face is the miss-classification of companies, which affects the robustness of our analysis. To overcome this I am using Web Scraping, Natural Language Processing and Supervised Machine Learning to assign SIC codes to companies using only the company name. In this presentation I will outline these techniques and provide an overview of our initial results.
See you in Manchester on Wednesday 18th April 2018 at 14.50
You will find details of the venue and a map on the booking link.
Best wishes,
Professor Tony Hines

Monday, 20 Nov 2017
Tony Hines

Book Your Place! 

Green Logistics: Decision Analytics for Sustainable Transportation
Professor Richard Eglese


The environmental effects of transporting goods are of increasing concern to managers and policy makers. The use of fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel oil, in transport produces air pollutants that can have a toxic effect on people and the environment. However, one of the main drivers for the concern over the environmental effects of freight transport has been the potential effects of the production of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on climate change from the use of carbon-based fuels.

Research into models for transportation and logistics has been active for many years. Much of the modelling has been with the aim of optimising economic objectives or improving measures of customer service. However, in recent years, more research has been undertaken where environmental objectives have also been considered, so that supply chain and other logistic services can be delivered in a more sustainable way.

For the OR analyst, there are many choices to be made about how to model freight transport operations. Can old models be revised with a simple change of objective or are more radical changes needed? We shall examine some of these choices and illustrate the issues with cases studies to show what contribution can be made to environmental and other objectives through the use of decision analytic models. This will include issues raised by the use of new technologies, such as the use of electric or other alternatively powered vehicles.

Professor Richard Eglese

Richard Eglese is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Management Science at Lancaster University Management School.

He was President of the Operational Research Society in the UK in 2010-2011 and is currently a member of its General Council and Chair of its Publications Committee. He is also now President of EURO (The Association of European Operational Research Societies) until the end of 2018.

His research interests include combinatorial optimisation using mathematical programming and heuristic methods. He is concerned with applications to vehicle routing problems, particularly models for time-dependent problems and for problems in Green Logistics where environmental considerations are taken into account to provide more sustainable distribution plans.

Details of recent publications and other information can be found on


“Facets” and challenges in Air Transportation

Guglielmo Lulli



Rapid growth in aviation is placing extra stress on existing air transport infrastructure, both in the air and on the ground (airports). In this talk, I will provide an overview on a number of challenges faced in the Air Transportation System with special emphasis to Air Traffic Management. I will also describe some of the most promising mathematical models recently developed – with their mathematical properties – to deliver a harmonised and efficient ATM system.


Guglielmo Lulli is Senior Lecturer in Network Analytics at Lancaster University. His professional expertise, research and teaching interests focus on deterministic and stochastic optimisation particularly as applied to transportation and logistics operations, air traffic management and energy. He was recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship at M.I.T. and received the 2013 Best Paper in Transportation Science and Logistics Prize of the Transportation and Logistics Society of INFORMS.

Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017
Tony Hines

Prof. Richard Eglese, Lancaster University will be talking about his research in OR and Green Logistics.

You will find further details on how to register for the event here:-

The NWORG Committee look forward to meeting you. If you have suggestions for future events or would like to become part of the organising team for the year ahead please let us know.

Check back later for further details about this event.

Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017
Tony Hines

Just under twenty-four hours! NWORG is very pleased to welcome everybody to the OR Society AGM in Manchester. See you at MMU tomorrow. If you still want to come see the booking details below. #ORSocietyAGM@MMU when tweeting tomorrow.

We will have a full report later if you are not fortunate enough to be there.

All the Best


Thursday, 15 Jun 2017
Tony Hines

Just one week to the OR Society AGM at MMU. Promises to be an excellent event. Look forward to seeing you there!

Book your place today.  You will find full details on the booking page.

Take our NWORG Survey here (less than 3 minutes).