Ammunition Storage Optimisation
Storage of ammunition is governed by a myriad of safety constraints complicating what is already a difficult problem of deciding how much of what to store where. The land around an ammunition dump cannot be developed and Singapore needed to minimise such sterilised land. The first study was undertaken manually by IT experts for about 4 years without much success before Mr. Sim Cheng Hwee (Managing Director of IDSC, then still in Mindef) used OR/MS to develop a plan that required about 30% less floor space. This translates into huge savings in terms of land and construction costs. In recognition of its expertise, IDSC was awarded a contract in late 1998 to develop another such model to optimise storage and simulate retrieval activities at the underground ammunition facilities. IDSC provided the OR and ammunition domain expertise to develop a leading-edge ammunition logistics system that transforms military logistics in Singapore.
Supply Chain Optimisation
IDSC had helped many MNCs review and improve their supply chains often with counter-intuitive results. For example, in 1996, a consortium of 6 large MNCs (Pepsi, Kraft, Colgate, Maybelline, United Biscuits, Taiko Sugar) decided to share their logistics in China and engaged a HK consultant to develop and tender their distribution plan. SembCorp Logistics engaged IDSC’s MD (then on secondment from Mindef) to help develop their tender response. In about a month, a plan was produced that was conservatively about 8-12% lower cost (at least US$0.5m) than the concept proposed by the HK consultant. This enabled SembCorp Logistics to clinch their first deal and set up operations in China. Another successful distribution network project was undertaken for Mobil Oil HK Ltd with a broader scope. Manufacturing and marketing issues such as duties on raw materials, pricing structure, sales territories, etc. was also addressed so that Mobil could revise its corporate strategy for China as the situation evolves. IDSC’s results gave clarity to Mobil when its China experts could not agree on the best strategy. IDSC also completed a study of GE Plastics’ supply chain in Asia Pacific that mapped out the infrastructure and inventory needed to support their plans. This study showed that the client’s intuition that Subic Bay is a good hub was wrong. Other supply chain design projects undertaken were for some major tyre, tobacco, FMCG, chemicals and stockist companies.
IDSC had helped Compaq determine the best way to allocate its spares inventory so that its promised service levels in Thailand could be met. 3 out of 77 cities which should have a slower response time in order that overall cost is minimized were found and specific recommendations were made for reduction of stock points, which is the same principle applied to services like o2 mobile broadband, as response time in any business has a large impact on productivity. IDSC also helped an industrial component stockist evaluate and choose an inventory optimization software to forecast demand and coordinate the re-ordering of components so that the desired service level for different customers and product groups could be met at the lowest cost.
IDSC’s Managing Director was a member of the Mobility 2010 taskforce set up in 1996 by the Singapore Land Transport Authority to masterplan how its White Paper on World Class Public Transportation could be achieved. IDSC was also awarded a study in 2004 by the Jiangsu government to study and recommend ways by which its transportation bureau could improve the logistics industry in the province.
The efficiency of a facility is highly dependent on how well the concept, equipment, layout and processes are designed. Such infrastructure projects are typically left to architects and engineers who are not able to view the facility as a total system to develop robust designs able to meet future needs under a range of scenarios. IDSC had helped clients such as Abbott Nutrition, AMP, ST Logistics and YHS design their warehouses so that requirements are correctly sized, potential bottlenecks are identified, and impact of equipment choice and process on throughput are assessed for foreseeable scenarios of future needs.
Distributing goods using a fleet of trucks is still typically done manually. IDSC helped YHS, ST Logistics, CISCO Security and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to develop GIS-based routing systems that minimises cost while meeting a myriad of constraints such as payload weight and volume constraints of a heterogeneous fleet, time window constraints of pickups and drop-offs, as well as refrigeration and vehicle docking needs. The systems consider the road topology, typical speeds on each road segment, loading and unloading times, etc to develop good routes and realistic schedules. The SPH system included a GPS solution that enabled managers to log-on to the internet to view progress of newspaper delivery. IDSC had also completed a study for Certis Cisco examining the impact of cluster-level simultaneous replenishment of ATMs and how it should be optimised to achieve lowest total cost.
IDSC consultants have developed OR/MS models to help Mindef, Ministry of Home Affairs and Singapore Polytechnic determine the stability of desired manpower profiles, design policies that would move the organisation from the current to the desired profiles, and evaluate the robustness of policies in the face of uncertainties. IDSC also won the contract to deliver planning solutions to complement the Singapore civil service HRMS developed using SAP. These models enable top managers to systematically and more objectively decide on the recruitment, promotion and retention policies that will affect the strategic health of an organisation. Without such models, managers would find it difficult to understand the impact of various policies and their complex interactions and may end up with myopic policies or policies which pull in different directions. The target organisational structure may also not be stable. By identifying the key parameters and setting up a system to regularly scan the environment and update the models, the client organisation would be able to move from reactive to anticipative policy formulation. IDSC also offers solutions that integrates the planning of vocations and staff postings so that manpower planning is integrated.
Manning Level and Productivity Analysis
IDSC helped Woodlands Command of Singapore’s Immigration and Customs Authority to analyse its current operations to explore how clearance of people passing through the checkpoint in cars, buses, motorcycles, trains and on foot could be cleared more efficiently. The potential savings in manning levels due to better shift design and use of rostering technology was also demonstrated. Another example is an Airport Pre-Board Screening contract awarded by Certis CISCO to analyse the demand patterns of check-in and transfer passengers arriving at departure gates at Singapore’s Changi airport and to evaluate various team configurations to evaluate operational performance under uncertainty. IDSC was able to work out the optimal shift design to minimize manpower and also determine the number of reserve teams needed, and when the deployment of such teams should be triggered so that contracted service levels could be met at minimum cost. IDSC introduced data envelopment analysis to POSBank to better understand the productivity of its more than a hundred branches and several hundred ATMs. The branches and ATMs were categorised by their characteristics and locational and staff factors that affects productivity were identified so that a systematic basis could be established for the network could be continuously rationalised and improved. IDSC also helped the Traffic Police model its patrol operations to ascertain its optimal manning requirements to meet patrolling and investigation needs in various weather conditions.
Telecommunications Policy Modeling
IDSC developed models that helped the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (now part of IDA) assess the impact under different scenarios of the US FCC’s initiative to lower the international accounting rates, the effect of allowing callback services, and the factors affecting Singapore’s position as a telecommunications hub. One of the models was expanded to analyse what countries Singapore should work with if it is to exploit the fact that traffic in most cable systems varies through the day because of time-zone effects. This would help to lower cable investments needed to carry traffic into and out of Singapore and better strategise on cable investments connecting other countries to carry other telcos’ traffic.
Business Process Re-Engineering
The Singapore Police Force awarded a BPR contract for its logistics, licensing and traffic police operations to a consortium headed by Temasek Management Services (TMS). IDSC provided the IT/OR expertise to analyse process design options and propose technologies to bring about and make permanent the quantum improvement sought in BPR.
IDSC introduced data envelopment analysis to POSBank to better understand the productivity of its more than a hundred branches and several hundred ATMs. The branches and ATMs were categorised by their characteristics and locational and staff factors that affects productivity were identified so that a systematic basis could be established for the network could be continuously rationalised and improved.
Mindef awarded a contract to IDSC to conduct an audit of its sole-source supplier of a sensor. The work involved evaluating the appropriateness of cost estimation methodologies, technologies and production processes used. It is relevant not only to defence but also to sole source situations commonly encountered when a strategic partner is engaged to provide say logistics services on an exclusive basis.
Traffic Signals Optimisation
LTA awarded a contract to IDSC to conduct a pilot study at Bras Basah Road to examine how OR/MS could help improve traffic flow in congested situations. IDSC worked with University of Florida’s Center for Transportation Research to apply its offline optimisation model in this project.
Compaq Asia Pacific awarded a contract to examine how its network of repair centres and spares stock points in Thailand should be rationalised to improve response time and service level. IDSC also assisted DHL in its reverse logistics proposal for HP.
Police Post Optimisation
Singapore Police awarded a contract to IDSC to study how its network of police posts and police centres could be optimised so that its community policing and public counter services could be provided most efficiently. Through such work, the police is recognising how analytical work can help ensure that plans and doctrines are rigorously developed and are moving to establish such an in-house capability.
Compaq Asia Pacific awarded a contract to examine how its network of repair centres in Thailand should be rationalised to improve response time and service level. A foreign military awarded IDSC a contract to masterplan one of its ammunition storage facility.
Jurong Town Corporation engaged IDSC to develop a solution to optimise the re-development plan for industrial land in Singapore. Factors considered include the plot ratio, type of land, spread of lease expiries on each plot, proximity to other plots, etc.
Waiting Times Study
Ministry of Health, Singapore commissioned IDSC to conduct an OR study of the waiting times in all its public sector hospitals and clinics. This study was completed in Q3 2002. IDSC collected more than 50,000 patient data and developed significant insights into factors affecting consultation and surgery times which enabled it to conceptualise and recommend several fundamental steps and solutions needed to address the waiting time problem. The findings enable hospitals to optimally assign appointments based on assessed urgency, consultation/surgery duration and its variance, likelihood of no-show, etc. This allowed the appointments to be scheduled such as to reap the following benefits:
Patients of various medical urgency get treated at the right time
Time spent waiting time at clinics or surgery departments are minimized
Overbooking considers patient profiles so that clinical sessions end on time
Operating theatres operate better with less idle time
Singapore’s National Library Board awarded a contract to IDSC to guide the Library Professional Services & Supply Group in the masterplanning and execution of its Library 2010 programme aimed at transforming NLB’s handling of physical media. IDSC is introducing life-cycle and supply chain management concepts and technologies to power the transformation.
IDSC conducted a study on Singapore’s HDB carparks using game theory to show how the optimality of enforcement could be assessed and managed to achieve best results.