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Past Meetings

Towards solving two unsolved problems in logistics

Venue: Cardiff School of Mathematics
Speaker: Patrick Beullens, Southampton University
Date: Tuesday, 07 March 2017 at 18:00 - 19:00

The next SWORDS meeting of the 2016-2017 programme is scheduled for Tuesday the 7th of March 2017. The meeting will be held at the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University and will include the AGM. There will be cheese and wine available from 5.15pm in room M/1.04 on the first floor in the School of Mathematics. The talk will commence at 6.00pm in room E/0.15 (ground floor). Please note that times and rooms are different to normal.


This talk will focus on two seemingly unrelated problems in the area of logistics: 

(a)     what is the optimal economic order quantity to maximise a firm's profits after tax? 
(b)     what is the optimal speed of a time chartered ship?

We demonstrate that both problems can be viewed as comparing an infinite set of mutually exclusive choices of investments of different duration. Based on first principles of corporate finance theory, an optimal decision is determined from maximising the annuity stream of the cash-flow functions associated with these activities over the duration of the investment.

One benefit of this approach over traditional average profit models is that it can more accurately account for the influence of different contracts that the firm adopts with the outside world. We illustrate this point by examining how tax legislation affects the profitability of a UK firm that has to take economic order quantity decisions(1). We consider the influence of both corporate tax and value added tax on the firm's inventory problem.

A second benefit of adopting this approach is that it can help us to understand the importance of accounting for the opportunity cost of future investment opportunities after the current investment project is finished. We illustrate by looking into the problem of optimising the speed of a time chartered ship across a pre-determined route(2).

(1) The first problem is based on joint work with PhD student Hua Jin who holds an MSc in Finance and Accounting. (2) The second is based on joint work with PhD student Fangsheng Ge who holds an MSc in Operational Research and Finance, and Dominic Hudson, Shell Professor at the University of Southampton. 

Joint SWORDS/WORDS Event - Diversity and identity: challenges and opportunities for UK OR

Venue: Cardiff School of Mathematics
Speaker: Ruth Kaufman, President of the OR Society
Date: Tuesday, 07 February 2017 at 17:15 - 19:00

Meeting Details

The next SWORDS meeting of the 2016-2017 programme is scheduled for Tuesday the 7th of February 2017. The meeting will be held at the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University and is a joint meeting with WORDS. There will be cheese and wine available from 5.15pm in room M/1.04 on the first floor in the School of Mathematics. The talk will commence at 6.00pm in room E/0.15 (ground floor). Please note that times and rooms are different to normal.


People engaged in an activity like O.R., can be described on countless dimensions. For example, personal characteristics (the 'protected characteristics' of ethnicity, gender etc. that are part of formal diversity initiatives, but also values, preferences, personality), daily work activities, customer,  owner, career path,  whether they have ever heard of O.R.  Diversity can be a strength; but so can uniform identity. This talk reviews some significant dimensions of diversity and identity in UK OR, to consider what we might need to do to overcome the challenges of too much or too little diversity, and where we can exploit the enormous potential benefits of the glorious variety of ways of 'being an O.R. person'.


Analytics at McLaren: Driving Performance through Innovation

Venue: School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: Dr Angelico Fetta
Date: Wednesday, 07 December 2016 at 17:45

Analytics at McLaren: Driving Performance through Innovation

Dr Angelico Fetta

The next SWORDS meeting of the 2016-2017 programme is scheduled for Wednesday the 7th of December 2016. The meeting will be held at the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. There will be drinks available from 5.15pm in room M/1.04 on the first floor in the School of Mathematics. The talk will commence at 5.45pm in room M/0.40 (ground floor). This will be followed by a quiz and food in room M/1.02.

There is a charge for the social of £5 for OR Society members and £10 for others (partners are welcome). We need to know in advance who is coming so please let me know asap if you wish to attend. Also let me know if you would like the vegetarian option.

Please contact Jonathan Thompson, tel: 029-20875524


McLaren works with pioneers in industry, exploiting techniques and methodologies developed in Formula 1 to create novel solutions to complex real-world problems. Analytics is one of the most significant areas of growth at McLaren, with an expanding pipeline of projects from sectors such as healthcare, finance, energy and transport. This presentation offers an insight into some of the methods employed by the Analytics team, discussing a selection of the decision-support and real-time predictive modelling tools developed.

Lies, Damned Lies and Credit Derivatives

Venue: Cardiff University School of Mathematics
Speaker: Meirion Morgan
Date: Tuesday, 08 November 2016 at 17:45 - 19:00

The next SWORDS meeting will take place on the 8th November in room M/0.40 of the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. Tea and coffee will be available in the Internet Cafe in the Mathemartics building from 5.15.


The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 onwards needs no introduction – its effects were felt throughout the world. The subsequent media attention vilified bankers, yet the financial system as a whole can be shown to be at fault. In this talk, the speaker will look at credit derivatives – the financial products believed to have been instrumental in exacerbating the crisis – and discuss poor understanding of risk underpinning them, its mispricing, and the role played by mathematics in it all.


Bio: Dr. Meirion Morgan is a maths graduate of Cardiff (B.Sc., 1991) and Oxford (D.Phil, 1999) and worked for over a decade in the City as a Quantitative Analyst at a number of banks including UBS, Rabobank, RBS and Lloyds. He also co-founded a specialist financial services company shortly before the Global Financial Crisis.

PhD Talks and Social

Venue: School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: PhD Students
Date: Monday, 03 October 2016 at 17:45

The SWORDS program for 2016/2017 begins with the annual PhD student presentations on Monday 3rd October, starting at 5.45pm. The event will be in room E/0.15 in the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. Tea and coffee will be available in the café in the Maths department from 5.15pm

The meeting will be followed by a meal together at a local establishment. Please let me know if you intend to come, so we can order sufficient food. Also let me know of any dietary requirements. 

As well as short presentations by PhD students from both Cardiff University and the University of South Wales, it will be a chance to meet the new MSc students who are starting their studies at Cardiff University and Louise Allison of the Operational Research Society will update us with information about its current initiatives. >

I look forward to hearing from you,

Dr Jonathan Thompson

Senior Lecturer and Director of Learning and Teaching

School of Maths, Cardiff University

02920 875524 /

Visit to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water

Date: Wednesday, 04 May 2016 at 14:00 - 16:00

There is a visit to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water on Wednesday 4th of May between 2 and 4pm. The details are below. This is a great opportunity to see some exciting and innovative uses of Operational Research at first hand. Welsh Water has invested over £9 million in innovation projects over the last 12 months which has transformed the way they operate. The tour will give the opportunity to see cutting edge visualisation tools as well as many other areas of their business.


Please let me know if you plan to attend (email – Welsh Water require numbers in advance. Please also contact me if you would like a lift and we will see if we can arrange transport.




The address is Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Ty Awen, Spooner Close, Coedkernew, Newport, NP10 8FZ. There is car parking onsite with a few visitor spaces at the front and an overflow carpark just behind the building.




The visit will include the following:


1.         Igloo 360 demonstration - Igloo 360 is a circular pod which projects a 360 degree image onto the walls. It has the capability of google street map and intricate details of sites (see

2.       Modelling bacti failures at reservoirs - Bacti failures can occur in the water at reservoirs and Welsh Water model the probability of a sample failing at each reservoir

3.       Treatment Performance Forecast (TPF) - Looking at determinants at treatment works to establish causing factors and provide a score to each work

4.       Smart Hub overview - The Smart Hub is an area of the company that looks at predicting failures/problems before they happen to reduce disruption to the customer

5.       Smart scheduling - Optimising tanker deliveries around sites to minimise the number of tankers, fuel emissions and cost of hiring contractors

6.       Rant and Rave - If a customer contacts us we invite them to provide us with feedback of our customer service via our Rant and Rave system. From this we can establish how to improve via sentiment analysis

Structural Modelling the Mis-selling of Retail Banking Products

Venue: School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: Dr Richard Wood, Lloyds Banking Group
Date: Wednesday, 09 March 2016 at 17:45 - 19:00

This SWORDS seminar will be given on the 9th of March by Dr Richard Wood of Lloyds Banking Group on Structural Mis-selling of Retail Banking Products. Drinks will be available from the Internet cafe in the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University from 5.30pm and the sminar will begin at 5.45pm. 


Alongside market and credit risk, operational risk represents a significant exposure for financial firms, against which large amounts of capital are held. Operational risk is defined as the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed processes, people and systems or from external events. This includes scenarios such as rogue trading, sanctions breach, mis-selling, cyber fraud, and terrorist attack. The standard method to assess capital requirement for each such scenario is a well-known actuarial technique - frequency/severity modelling. Here the numbers of losses per year are probabilistically combined with the loss amount given event occurrence to yield a distribution of annual loss, from which the 99.9% quantile provides the capital requirement as per the Basel II/III regulation. Rather than calibrate the frequency and severity distributions through the typical means of using loss data or expert opinion, which is not necessarily risk sensitive and limits the extent of facilitating risk management consideration, this study develops a structural approach in which these distributions are determined using bespoke models built on the underlying risk drivers. As an example, product mis-selling in Retail banking is considered. For this scenario, the frequency distribution is constructed using a Bayesian belief network and the severity distribution using system dynamics with elements of queuing theory and multi-objective optimisation. This talk describes the approach taken to this end, and illustrates how the model can be used to estimate capital for a particular crystallisation of the scenario involving packaged bank accounts.

An OR State of Mind - The Benefits of an OR Approach to Continuous Improvement Programmes.

Venue: School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: Jon Richards, Nicola Drake (Quintec) and Felicity McLeister (OR Society)
Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 17:30 - 19:00

The next SWORDS seminar is scheduled for the 24th of February in the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. Drinks will be available in the Internet Cafe from 5.30pm with the seminar commencing at 5.45pm. 


Pro Bono O.R. is a scheme operated by The OR Society which places skilled analysts in short terms projects with third sector organisations across the UK.  A team from Thales Cyber and Consulting Services conducted the following Pro Bono O.R. project with Diabetes UK:


An OR State of Mind - The Benefits of an OR Approach to Continuous Improvement Programmes.


In any working environment, especially as an organisation expands it is easy to 'stick with what works' and repeat successful processes. These processes are often duplicated with minor tweaks and become part of 'business as usual'.

When the organisation is challenged to conduct improvements it can be very difficult to analyse these processes to identify what can be improved and where changes would provide benefits.


Based on the fundamentals of Business Change and Process Management this Pro Bono O.R project demonstrates the benefits of an OR approach to identifying challenges and deriving improvements to business processes.  This presentation discusses the analysis of business processes and the utilisation of all available information and people to derive observations and recommendations in direct support of the continuous improvement programme.


The presentation will conclude with the Pro Bono O.R. Project Manager, Felicity McLeister giving an overview of the scheme, some current volunteer roles and details of how you can get involved.

Maintaining Blood Stocks in Wales - a simple case of Demand & Supply?

Venue: Room M/0.40, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: Cath O’Brien (Director, WBS) and Stuart Morris (Head of Business Systems, WBS)
Date: Wednesday, 10 February 2016 at 17:30 - 19:00

The Welsh Blood Service [WBS] collects voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations from over 100,000 of the general public. These donations are processed and tested before distribution to hospitals where they support patient care. This currently covers South, West and part of Mid Wales; however in May 2016 North Wales will transfer from the English service to WBS with a 25% increase in production and creating an all Wales service.


This highly regulated supply chain operation has to maintain stock levels for this short-life product (5-7 days for platelets and 35 days for red blood cells) against variable and difficult to predict supply and demand across a range of blood groups.


Donors choose to donate at their convenience and are only able to donate at a set frequency of 16 weeks.


Hospital needs for blood vary according to total supply and blood group requirement resulting in a continual challenge to manage supply and ensure a minimal waste through expiry of the generous gift that donors give.


Currently only 1 in 30 people who are eligible to donate blood do so, whereas 1 in 3 people may need blood at some time in their life. As lifestyles and population demographics change, donor numbers are diminishing and recruitment techniques and donation process needs to meet the needs of the new donors we need to recruit.


The WBS blood collection model uses 5 teams of staff based on a system introduced in 2012 and now being reviewed. This utilises mobile blood vehicles, church halls, businesses and other community venues. The bleed model accommodates a mixture of appointments and walk in slots on an appointment grid and Donors follow a process of booking, screening, donation and rest through the clinic.  Variable attendance and donor throughput time in the clinic impact on flow, waiting times and clinic capacity. The range of permutations of alignment of staff to clinic capacity, appropriate skill-mix, the clinic visit cycle and travel time to clinic from the WBS base all need to be factored into the planning.


Following donation, the blood has to be tested and processed according to tightly defined protocols before distributing to hospitals across Wales.

Swansea Bay Lagoon Construction Logistics

Venue:  Swansea Civic Centre (County Hall), Committee Room 2, SA1 3SN
Speaker:  Iona Jenkins, Development Director for Wales
Date: Thursday, 21 January 2016 at 18:00 - 20:00

The Swansea Bay development has the potential for a significant impact, both for the local region and the Welsh economy more generally. However, there are many logistical challenges in completing this development, and these will be explored in this presentation.