Southern OR Group past meetings

A stochastic programming model for an energy planning problem: Formulation, solution method and application

Speaker: Chandra Irawan (University of Nottingham, Ningbo)
Date: Wednesday, 10 March
Time: 13:00-14:00

Abstract: The paper investigates national/regional power generation expansion planning for medium/long-term analysis in the presence of electricity demand uncertainty. A two-stage stochastic programming is designed to determine the optimal mix of energy supply sources with the aim to minimise the expected total cost of electricity generation considering the total carbon dioxide emissions produced by the power plants. Compared to models available in the extant literature, the proposed stochastic generation expansion model is constructed based on sets of feasible slots (schedules) of existing and potential power plants. To reduce the total emissions produced, two approaches are applied where the first one is performed by introducing emission costs to penalise the total emissions produced. The second approach transforms the stochastic model into a multi-objective problem using the ε-constraint method for producing the Pareto optimal solutions. As the proposed stochastic energy problem is challenging to solve, a technique that decomposes the problem into a set of smaller problems is designed to obtain good solutions within an acceptable computational time. The practical use of the proposed model has been assessed through application to the regional power system in Indonesia. The computational experiments show that the proposed methodology runs well and the results of the model may also be used to provide directions/guidance for Indonesian government on which power plants/technologies are most feasible to be built in the future.

About the speaker: Chandra Irawan is an Associate Professor in Operations Management at the Nottingham University Business School Ningbo China (UNNC). He has published his works in well-known international journals such as European Journal of Operational Research, Computer and Operations Research, Journal of Heuristics and Annals of Operations Research. Prior to the UNNC, he was a research fellow at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Portsmouth UK for 3 years. He received the BSc and MSc degree in industrial engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Indonesia in 1996 and 2003 respectively. He obtained his PhD in Management Science from University of Kent UK in 2014.

The Art and Science of Modelling

Venue: University of Southampton, Building 2A, Room 2077
Speaker: Paul Fishwick, Nav Mustafee and John Powell
Date: Monday, 18 June 2018 at 16:00 - 18:30

Joint meeting of the Southern OR Group, The OR Society Simulation SIG and CORMSIS

1. 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.

Paul Fishwick is Distinguished University Chair of Arts and Technology (ATEC), and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. 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. 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.

This talk is part of the “Simulation SIG Paul Fishwick roadshow” co-sponsored by the UK OR Society and the Leverhulme Trust.

2. Talk by Nav Mustafee and John Powell, University of Exeter Business School

Details to follow, but it will be about their work developing an app called NHSquicker which provides real-time information about expected waiting times in A&E departments and Minor Injury Units across the south west of England.

Two talks about OR for the third sector

Venue: University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 34, Room 4005
Speaker: Ruth Kaufman and Steve White
Date: Thursday, 02 November 2017 at 16:00 - 17:30

This event will be held on the University of Southampton Highfield Campus in Building 34, Room 4005 (see here for a campus map).

The meeting will feature two talks on OR for the third sector.

The first is by Ruth Kaufman, the OR Society President, and the second is by Steve White, Individual Giving Manager - Campaigns and Operational Research, Marie Curie.

Following the two talks, the AGM of SORG will be held, with drinks and refreshments served.

Speaker: Ruth Kaufman, President of the OR Society

Title: What's so special about the third sector?

Abstract: The OR Society’s Third Sector initiative has two main components: a Special Interest Group, and a Pro Bono scheme, matching OR volunteers with third sector organisations needing their input. But is there really any difference between doing OR in the third sector and doing it with a government or private sector organisation? Is “it’s for charity” really a good enough reason to work for free? This talk explores these challenges, taking charities as an example of third sector organisations.

It considers three areas of inherent difference between charity, private and public organisations – legal form, governance, and resourcing – and other factors such as organisational size, culture, and business environment. It goes on to consider the implications for practising OR in three broad areas: strategy, efficiency/effectiveness, and profitability. Finally, it explores the rationale for volunteering.

Speaker: Steve White, Marie Curie

Title: OUT with traditional value measures, IN with engagement

Abstract: At Marie Curie, analysis has shown a downward trend over the last few years in the number of active supporters giving to cash appeals. Many factors have contributed to this gradual fall and it's arguably impossible to isolate the impact of each factor. Individual Giving (IG) at Marie Curie had reached a tipping point as the acquisition of high volume but lowly engaged supporters were no longer topping up the leaky bucket of lapsing donors. In January 2017, an IG Summit was held with the management team to explore ways of recruiting more highly engaged supporters, but also with a greater focus on retaining those valuable supporters we already had. 19 strategic projects were agreed under the umbrella goal of LOVE - Legacies, Offers, Value and Efficiency.

Whether we call it LOVE or engagement, this talk gives several practical analysis examples of making the most of your in-house database; to understand your supporters from both a giving behaviour but also engagement point of view, recognising their overall value and loyalty over many years. To then use such insight to communicate with them appropriately. In summary, this talk explains how to broaden the definition of financial value to also include engagement and human elements.

If there are any questions about the meeting, please contact Chris Potts: C.N.Potts [at]

Healthcare Logistics

Venue: University of Southampton (main Highfield Campus), Room 1083, Building 2
Speaker: Stefan Nickel, KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany
Date: Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 16:00 - 17:15

Abstract: Healthcare logistics addresses the efficient planning, realization and control of patient-, material- and information-flow within the healthcare sector. Therefore, the use of Operations Research methods plays a crucial role in healthcare logistics. However, the unique feature in this field of application is to not only put emphasis upon the economic efficiency but also to take into account the quality of care and patient satisfaction. Accordingly, the medical competence is never interfered in.

Especially in hospitals, scheduling problems and in-house logistics are of great importance. With the help of medical and technical devices patients are examined, treated and cured if possible. Hospital logistics are all technical and organizational measures that are needed to transfer patients from an initial state (“ill”) into a final state (in the best case “healthy”) while also regarding the corresponding goods and information. Usually, hospital processes are grown historically (“We have always done it this way.”). Consequently, processes have not been analyzed critically until reforms of the health system have put increasing pressure on hospitals. Nowadays, hospitals are looking for possibilities to improve their processes. Therefore, the success of logistics concepts in hospitals lies in resource conservation for non-value-adding activities (not directly relevant for the healing process, e.g., administrative work) and high resource utilization for value-adding activities (e.g., surgery) while the personnel shall not be over-utilized (i.e., no overtime). Moreover, the interaction of appropriate logistics concepts with modern OR models allow a patient centered treatment, by respecting the needs of a patient and allowing a smoother process. Moreover, the digitalization of the health care sector offers new opportunities to OR.

Clinical pathways should determine an optimal sequence and schedule for the patient’s treatment with the objective of minimizing delays and maximizing the quality of care while taking into account resource capacities. To reach this goal, logistics aspects on different hierarchical levels as hospital layout planning (strategic), appointment planning (tactical) and patient transportation (operational) have to be integrated into the clinical pathway.

In this talk, we give an overview on how OR methods can be used in order to support process optimization in healthcare organizations. We focus on healthcare logistics applications arising in different healthcare sectors and dealing with different time scales. Examples include: Hospital layout planning, Appointment planning, Patient transportation, Ambulance location and Home health care. Both, OR models and numerical results – also from real world projects - will be presented. In addition, we will give some advice on how teaching in OR for Health Care could be done.

About the speaker: Professor Stefan Nickel, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Stefan Nickel is a full professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - KIT (Germany) and one of the directors of the Institute of Operations Research. He obtained his PhD in mathematics at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (Germany) in 1995. From 1995 to 2003 he was assistant and associate professor in mathematics at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. After a full professor position at the Saarland University (Chair of Operations Research and Logistics) from 2003 to 2009, he joined the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology as the Chair in Discrete Optimization and Logistics in April 2009. Since 2014 he is the dean of the Department of Economics and Management at KIT. Stefan Nickel was also member of the scientific advisory board as well as of the management board of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Mathematics (ITWM) in Kaiserslautern from 2004-2016. Since 2011 he additionally holds the positions of one of the directors of the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute (KSRI) and of the Research Center for Computer Science (FZI). From 2006-2015 he was editor-in-chief of Computers & Operations Research and is still consulting editor. Moreover, he is editor-in-chief of Operations Research for Health Care. He has coordinated the Health Care working group within the German OR society (GOR) and has been the president of GOR from 2013-2014.

Stefan Nickel has authored or co-authored 5 books as well as more than 100 scientific articles in his research areas Locational Analysis, Supply Chain Management, Health Care Logistics, and Online Optimization. He has been awarded the EURO prize for the best EJOR review paper (2012) and the Elsevier prize for the EJOR top cited article 2007-2011. In addition he conducted several industry projects with well-known companies such as BASF, Lufthansa, Miele, or SAP.

Logistics Service Network Design for Humanitarian Response in East Africa

Venue: University of Southampton (main Highfield Campus), Room 3041, Building 2
Speaker: Gilbert Laporte, Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management HEC Montréal
Date: Thursday, 03 November 2016 at 16:00 - 17:15

Abstract: The United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) is an important humanitarian logistics service provider that manages a network of depots. This research project aims to analyze the potential benefits of adding a regional distribution center in Kampala, Uganda, to its existing network. To this end, we used fieldwork, simulation, optimization and statistical analyses to assess the costs of prepositioning relief items in Kampala and to propose a robust stocking solution. The UNHRD has already started to implement the solution proposed in this study, which should result in a mean cost reduction of around 21%.

This is joint work with Émilie Dufour, Julie Paquette and Marie-Ève Rancourt.

About the speaker: Gilbert Laporte obtained his Ph.D. in Operations Research at the London School of Economics in 1975. He is professor of Operations Research at HEC Montréal, Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, adjunct Professor at Molde University College, Bilkent University and the University of Alberta, visiting professor at the University of Southampton, guest professor at the University of Science and Technology of China, and distinguished professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He is also a member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT) and founding member of the Group for Research in Decision Analysis (GERAD). He has been Editor of Transportation Science, Computers & Operations Research and INFOR. He has authored or coauthored 19 books, as well as more than 500 scientific articles in combinatorial optimization, mostly in the areas of vehicle routing, location and timetabling. Gilbert Laporte has received many scientific awards, both nationally and internationally.

If there are any questions about the meeting, please contact Chris Potts: C.N.Potts [at]

Getting the Biggest Bang for the Buck: Optimising Investment in River Connectivity Restoration

Venue: Univeristy of Southampton (main Highfield Campus), Room 3041, Building 2
Speaker: Jesse O’Hanley, Kent Business School
Date: Thursday, 13 October 2016 at 16:00 - 17:15

Abstract: River systems across the globe are heavily impacted by the presence of large numbers of in-stream structures, such as dams, weirs, culverts, and other river crossings. Such structures often form physical barriers that disrupt the natural connectivity of rivers, thus preventing fish and other aquatic organisms from accessing essential breeding and rearing habitats. In this talk, I will present a state-of-the-art optimisation-based methodology for prioritising river barrier repair and removal decisions. The methodology was originally developed through a collaborative project with the California Fish Passage Forum, a consortium of state and federal government agencies and nongovernmental organisations whose mandate is to improve river access for migratory fish throughout California. To help the Forum and other organisations run the optimisation model, a software tool called OptiPass was developed, which comes replete with a graphical user interface to allow non-technical users to quickly and easily generate optimal barrier mitigation solutions. The optimisation model underpinning OptiPass represents a radical improvement over the ad-hoc methods commonly used in barrier prioritisation planning. The presentation will include an overview of the optimisation framework, which makes use of a sophisticated linearisation technique known as the "probability chain" method, as well as a small demonstration of the OptiPass software and a discussion about how the methodology has been used by the Forum to take a far more strategic approach to barrier mitigation planning.

About the speaker: Jesse O’Hanley is a Reader at the Kent Business School. He obtained his BSc in Biological Sciences and an MSc in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research both from Stanford University and holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy & Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Kent in 2006, Dr O’Hanley worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford and before that as a management consultant to the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley.

Dr O'Hanley's research focuses mainly on the development and application of optimisation and simulation techniques in the areas of environmental management and logistics. Dr O’Hanley has written dozens of publications covering topics on facility location, river infrastructure mitigation, forest/conservation management, and climate change impacts analysis. He has also carried out advisory and consultancy work for various US/UK government agencies, NGOs, and other organisations, including Defra, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Port of Dover.

For any queries about the seminar, please contact Chris Potts: C.N.Potts [at]

Environmental Sustainability in Logistics – The Contribution from Vehicle Routing

Venue: Building 2, Room 1039, at the Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Speaker: Professor Richard Eglese (Lancaster University)
Date: Wednesday, 20 January 2016 at 16:00


Environmental sustainability is an area of concern for the transportation of goods. Negative environmental effects in logistics may arise from issues concerning such things as noise and safety, but this review will concentrate on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that result from logistic activities. The models that are used to estimate the GHG emissions for road vehicles will be presented and compared to show the inputs that are needed and the outputs they provide. Various approaches that use these models to plan vehicle routes will be compared, particularly considering whether time-independent or time-dependent models are used and whether the speed of the vehicles is regarded as fixed or variable within the models. The scale of reduction in GHG emissions that is achievable through the adoption of vehicle routing systems will be examined and compared to the effect on GHG emissions from other factors such as the type and capacity of the vehicles used and the opportunities for backhauls and collaboration.

About the speaker

Richard Eglese is a Professor of Operational Research 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. In 2016 he is also President-Elect of EURO (the Association of European Operational Research Societies). His research interests include combinatorial optimisation using mathematical programming and heuristic methods. He is interested in 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 here.

Please contact Chris Potts if you need further information: C.N.Potts [at]

Operational Research for the Modelling of the Logistics of Offshore Wind Farms

Venue: Building 2, Room 1085, at the Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Speaker: Professor Dylan Jones, Department of Mathematics, University of Portsmouth
Date: Tuesday, 03 November 2015 at 16:00

This seminar will detail the speaker’s work on building quantitative models for the logistics of the offshore wind industry. The models mainly arise from three European Union funded projects. Firstly, an overview of the current offshore wind sector will be given. Future developments and logistical challenges will then be outlined. A range of potential usage of Operational Research models will be discussed, concentrating on multiple criteria models.

The speaker will then present two quantitative models relating to logistics of offshore wind farms. The first model, concerned with location analysis of UK Round 3 wind farm sites, will be described in detail. An extended goal programming model will be built that considers socio-economic, technical, and environmental objectives. A weight sensitivity analysis method is applied and the results described. An overview of the second model, which relates to construction logistics in the presence of cost time trade-offs, will be given. A compromise programming model and results of its solution via heuristic and exact methods will be discussed. Overall conclusions regarding the use of quantitative models for decision support in the offshore wind industry will be drawn.

Following the seminar, the AGM of SORG will take place.

Please contact Chris Potts if you need further information: C.N.Potts [at]

The Impact of Pricing Decisions in a Business-to-Business Environment

Venue: Playfair Library, Old College, South Bridge EH8 9YL Edinburgh
Speaker: Christopher S. Tang

We examine the impact of pricing decisions in a B2B environment. Because the scope is broad and relevant literature is scant, we shall examine this issue in two specific setting. We first examine how discount pricing concessions can create the ‘bullwhip effect’ in the MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) industry and discuss how to mitigate the bullwhip effect. Then, we discuss how uncertain spot price market in the ocean freight industry has triggered customers to demand carriers to offer ‘price matching’. We examine the impact of price matching mechanism on the carrier.

How do you Solve a Problem like Analytics?

Venue: Building 02, Room 3043, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Speaker: Professor Stewart Robinson, the President of the OR Society
Date: Thursday, 14 May 2015 at 16:00


“Analytics” seems to be everywhere, job adverts abound, companies talk of their analytics capabilities, and the press regularly report on activities in analytics. Meanwhile, in the OR world, our US counterpart, INFORMS, have thrown huge resources at analytics. So how should we, as UK based OR practitioners and academics, respond? In this talk I shall reflect upon my own analytics journey which started in around 2006. We shall ask what is analytics? Is it just another fad or something that will stay? And we shall finish by thinking about what this means for us. Come ready to discuss your own ideas on how we “solve a problem like analytics.”

About the speaker

STEWART ROBINSON is Professor of Management Science and Associate Dean Research at Loughborough University, School of Business and Economics. Previously employed in simulation consultancy, he supported the use of simulation in companies throughout Europe and the rest of the world. He is author/co-author of five books on simulation. His research focuses on the practice of simulation model development and use. Key areas of interest are conceptual modelling, model validation, output analysis and alternative simulation methods (discrete-event, system dynamics and agent based). Professor Robinson is co-founder of the Journal of Simulation and President of the Operational Research Society. He is helping to lead an OR Society Charitable Project on Analytics Education. Homepage:

Venue: Building 02, Room 3043, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton (map).