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OPERA Research

Director: Dirk Pieter van Donk

The research programme focuses on decision making relating to production, services and logistic operations within profit as well as non profit organizations. The decision making deals with modelling, analysis, design/improvement, development and planning & control at several levels. The cooperation between Operations Management and Operations Research will generate synergy in combining domain knowledge of OM and the decision support of OR. The setting is multidisciplinary and gives attention to the points of view of quality, timely delivery, costs, and organization. Behavioural aspects, HRM, and aspects of ICT are covered by cooperation with neighbouring research groups.

OPERA distinguishes three research themes: Planning & Control, Coordination and Operations Research.

Planning & control
Within this theme, OPERA aims at developing decision making concepts in industries facing new opportunities and threats. The central paradigm in the research is to link characteristics of the production system to the design of planning & control. The research has a strong methodological basis in Operations Research, Industrial Engineering and Simulation. It designs and tests decision rules that can be used for planning and improving operations. The main application areas are discrete production, a sector facing high pressure to reduce throughput times and increase variety, and food processing industry, a sector facing an increasing demand for flexibility while having inflexible capacity. Typical for OPERA’s research on planning & control is the combination of domain knowledge of the application areas, use of recent theoretical models from related fields, such as HRM, Business Administration, Manufacturing Engineering, and the use of quantitative research methods. The planning subjects covered range from scheduling, release methods,inventory control, layout planning, intermediate storage, team composition and task allocation to dual resource constrained planning.

Coordination
The central issue in this research theme is to investigate the contingencies of coordination in operations and supply chains, i.e., internal and external coordination. Contingencies relate to the organisational setting and the context and characteristics of supply chains. Specific attention is paid to the role of the human actors involved in coordination. As a consequence, there is a focus on empirical research methods (case studies, surveys). Additionally, relevant concepts of related fields like HRM and ICT are incorporated. Subjects are the role of the actors involved in customer order and production order processing, the organizational setting of coordination, coordination of manufacturing and sales, buyer-focused operations and contextual factors of supply chain integration.

Operations Research
This theme focuses on areas that provide important mathematical foundations for Operations. First, quantitative logistics and combinatorial optimisation provide foundations for problems such as locating facilities, routing vehicles, and composing ideal teams from individuals. Within integer programming, planning problems from logistics and other areas are investigated, problems that can not be tackled entirely by combinatorial methods, but are amendable to more general mathematical programming algorithms. The activities within stochastic programming provide the means to model and efficiently solve problems that involve stochastic uncertainty, for example with respect to stock- or currency prices or uncertainties planners face regarding demand forecasts. Finally, game theoretic analysis is suitable to plan not only against an unresponsive nature, but also to investigate how competitor's reaction to own optimised strategies might affect the optimality of the chosen strategy.

Last modified:25 June 2013 3.47 p.m.