Module name: Operations and Technology Management-OTM
Module code: MSIN0120
Module leader name: Bilal Gokpinar
Academic year: 2019-2020
Nature of assessment – individual or group: Individual
Module learning outcomes covered in this assessment
Assessment of this coursework
Coursework brief and requirements
This assessment is marked out of
% weighting of this assessment within total module mark
Word count/page length - maximum
Footnotes, appendices, tables, figures, diagrams, charts included in/excluded from word count
Included in word count
Bibliographies, reference lists included in/excluded from word count
Excluded in word count
Penalty for exceeding word count/page length
Yes – 10 percentage points deduction, capped at 40% for Levels 4,5, 6, and 50% for Level 7. Refer to Academic Manual Section 3: Module Assessment - 3.13 Word Counts.
Academic misconduct (including plagiarism)
Academic Misconduct is defined as any action or attempted action that may result in a student obtaining an unfair academic advantage. Refer to Academic Manual Section 9: Student Academic Misconduct Procedure - 9.2 Definitions.
Friday 28th August 2020
23.59 (Beijing time)
Penalty for late submission
Submitting your assignment
The assignment MUST be submitted to the module submission link located within this module’s Moodle ‘Submissions’ tab by the specified deadline.
Anonymity of identity
All assignments are anonymous unless the nature of the assessment e.g. video, presentation, group work with minutes attached, is such that anonymity is not possible). Accordingly, no reference to your name(s) should appear on your submission. Insert only your UCL ID number(s) and do so on the front cover.
Text below to be amended/deleted as appropriate by module leaders
The nature of this assessment is such that anonymity is required.
Return and status of marked assignments
At the latest this will be within 4 weeks from the date of submission but we will endeavour to return it earlier than this.
Assessments are subject to double marking/scrutiny, and internal quality inspection by a nominated School of Management internal assessor. All results when first published are provisional until confirmed by the relevant External Examiner and the Examination Board.
No appeals regarding your published mark are available until after confirmation by that Examination Board.
This assignment contributes towards the achievement of the following stated module Learning Outcomes as highlighted below:
- to be able to use both quantitative and qualitative tools to analyse basic operational issues.
- to understand the “physics” of material, work and information flows within companies
- to learn how the design and management of a firm’s processes interact to determine a firm’s cost structure and its ability to compete effectively in terms of non-cost measures such as quality, variety and speed.
Within each section of this coursework you may be assessed on the following aspects, as applicable and appropriate to this particular assessment, and should thus consider these aspects when fulfilling the requirements of each section:
Liu Wei is the director of a small regional warehouse that distributes food products to a large number of supermarkets in Beijing. Products arrive at the warehouse in large trucks from factories. They have to be unloaded one at a time (i.e., there is only one team working at any given time) and uploaded on smaller trucks that are used to deliver the goods to the retail outlets. In its current configuration the facility has a loading/unloading capacity of 31 trucks/day, well above the total demand of 18 trucks/day. (For sake of simplicity assume the facility operates 24h/day and 365 days/year).
Despite this excess capacity, Liu has noticed that long queues often form in front of the loading docks. The average waiting time in the queue is approximately 5 hours. As a consequence, an increasing number of truck drivers tell Liu that they will start using a different facility located nearby, if his service is not improved, and that although this other warehouse is slightly more expensive and less conveniently located. After analysing the economics of the problem Liu has estimated that his opportunity cost of a truck not being on the road is 0.7 £ /per truck and per hour (capturing the cost of lost customers, etc.).
Mindful of his operations management background, Liu understands that the queues may be a consequence of the high variability of either the arrivals of customers or of the service process. The arrival of customer is scheduled and has limited variability (CVa = 0.5). Conversely, after analysing the behavior of the system, Liu finds out that the average time his employees need to load and unload the trucks is indeed extremely variable. He estimates a coefficient of variation for this process (standard deviation/mean) of CVs = 3, much higher than he would have expected. This variability is due to differences in skill among his employees (some are new to the job and still have to learn how to handle the loads) and to the different types of containers that have to be arranged in the trucks.
Obviously concerned by the increasing number of customers that switch to his competitor, Liu evaluates potential solutions to this problem. Given that he cannot further reduce the variability of the arrival process (arrivals are already scheduled and the remaining variability depends on the traffic on the roads), he decides to focus on the loading/unloading process (i.e. the service process).
Liu considers purchasing a fully automated loading system that should significantly reduce differences in loading/unloading times (although it will not have an effect on the average service time per truck, which will remain unchanged). The new automated system has a total annual cost of 40,000 £ /year (inclusive of depreciation, variable costs for maintenance and other activities…). A computer simulation suggests that the new system would reduce the variability of the process to one third of its current level.
i) Estimate the new average waiting time if the automated loading system is purchased.
ii) Should Liu purchase the new automated system? Why? Why not?
iii) To address his company’s problems, what other actions could Liu take in addition to considering to purchase an automated loading system? Please suggest at least 3 different actions and discuss their operational implications.
“An experts says long food supply chains — which can involve as many as 25 different companies over thousands of kilometres — mean most businesses lack visibility of the rest of the chain. This also curbs government action. “Because of the lack of tiered visibility, it’s hard for policymakers to come together and say ‘we know there is a million tons of wheat in Poland that needs processing’,” he says.”
Building on these comments and your experience with the simulation games we played in class, please discuss what companies can do to improve visibility in their supply chains? In what ways increased visibility improves supply chain performance?
“Boris Johnson will urge business leaders on Monday to lead a national effort to tackle the spread of coronavirus by ramping up efforts to fill a ventilator shortage in the UK…after the government admitted there were just 5,000 machines available in the National Health Service. The government has already approached manufacturers, including Honda, about the possibility of opening up new production lines at their plants. Ford has also been contacted by the government about using its UK engine plants to produce ventilators. The company has facilities in Dagenham and Bridgend. The move comes as the Department for Health confirmed on Sunday that 35 people with coronavirus had died while 1,372 people in the UK had now tested positive for the disease…
However, industry figures have privately expressed scepticism over the government’s plans, not least because medical devices need regulatory approval that typically takes weeks or months, depending on complexity and risk. “We’re in a very difficult situation but it’s not something you could get into in a short timeframe,” said one adviser to industry…Several industry executives said that British motorsport groups would be better placed to help, rather than large carmakers whose large facilities are less suitable. A car industry executive said: “What makes them think we carmakers know how to make ventilators and that a car factory assembly line is even vaguely appropriate?”
Considering concepts and frameworks you learned in our class, please evaluate and discuss how feasible it is for carmakers to produce ventilators to quickly fill the shortage.
Please respond to this manager’s concern by analysing the data and showing your findings. Is she right to be concerned about? Why? Why not?