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INFORMS announces 2017 Edelman Award finalists

INFORMS Edelman AwardINFORMS announced six finalists for the 46th annual Franz Edelman Award for Achievements in Operations Research and Management Science, the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of analytics and O.R. The 2017 Edelman Award will be presented at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research in Las Vegas on April 2-4.

For more than four decades, winners of the Edelman Award have been recognized for transforming how we approach some of the world’s most complex problems. This year’s finalists are no exception, with revolutionary contributions to the healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, mining and revenue management industries. To date, the finalists for the Edelman Award have contributed to a cumulative impact of more than $240 billion.

The finalists for the 2017 Edelman Award are:

The American Red Cross, in partnership with researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, developed a new blood collection model to reduce the expenses associated with the 44,000 blood donations needed in the United States each day. Currently, 30 million blood component transfusions are conducted in the U.S. each year, a number that continues to rise as the prevalence of chronic diseases, an ageing population and a greater number of organ transplants increase the demand for transfusions.

By reviewing and revising blood collecting and processing schedules, collection locations, among other factors, the researchers were able to propose a model that would reduce the total costs associated with blood collection by 70 percent, leading to a $4 million annual reduction nationwide. To date, this new collection model has been implemented by the American Red Cross Southern Center, which serves the needs of the nearly 120 hospitals in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, with post-implementation results remaining consistent with the proposed savings.

Barco, a global technology company that manufactures products for the entertainment, healthcare and enterprise markets, partnered with researchers from the IESEG School of Management in France and the University KU Leuven and Vlerick Business School in Belgium to support the assessment and development of product platforms for the company’s production and development of high-tech screens used in medical devices. Rapid advances in technology, unique customer requests and growing competition had quickly expanded Barco’s portfolio in this area, which in turn led to increased complexity, higher inventory costs and longer production time frames.

The researchers created a mathematical optimization model that enabled Barco to easily assess the number of platforms to develop and which products should be included in each platform. The researchers ultimately developed multi-functional product platforms that reduced product development time by 46 percent and increased on-time customer deliveries by 8 percent.

BHP Billiton, one of the world’s largest producers of major commodities including iron ore, coal and other metals and minerals, partnered with AMEC Foster Wheeler to prepare the company to expand into the production of bulk fertilizer commodities. The project sought to create a model that incorporated every component of mining, hoisting and ore processing, while decreasing capital and operating expenses, and increasing production capacity.

The Detailed Integrated Capacity Estimate (DICE) model, not commonly used in mining projects of this nature, is a comprehensive simulation model that delivers a significant production capacity increase without increasing capital expenditure. This new model employs multiple operations research techniques to provide an unprecedented combination of complexity, granularity, and scalability. By incorporating DICE into the execution and management of this new mining project, BHP Billiton has increased the project’s overall net present value by more than $100 million.

General Electric (GE) partnered with Norfolk Southern (NS) Railroad to create and implement an algorithm to dispatch thousands of trains in real time, increase their average speed, and realize annual savings in the hundreds of millions. NS Railroad, one of the seven Class I railroads in North America, handles a range of rail traffic that includes intermodal, automobile transport, manifest freight and passenger, all with unique priorities and scheduling requirements. Previously, the dispatch for each geographic area was managed manually from regional dispatch centers, and did not consider an encompassing view of the entire rail network.

The algorithm developed by the GE researchers incorporated data on the properties of the rail networks (track blocks, speed restrictions, height and weight restrictions, etc.), data on the trains (schedules, operating costs, train characteristics, etc.), as well as additional activities associated with train dispatching, such as crew changes and inspections. In doing so, the partner companies were able to create a near optimal system to manage all train dispatch, increase the average speed of trains by two miles per hour, and save NS Railroad around $400 million each year.

Holiday Retirement, the largest private owner and operator of independent senior living communities in the United States with more than 300 facilities and $1 billion in annual revenue, partnered with Prorize LLC to revise its outdated pricing model, replacing it with a new revenue management system that would increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction. Previously, an inconsistent pricing structure resulted in frequent price negotiations between corporate and local staff, and between local staff and customers, which led to revenue loss and a negative customer experience.

By applying an innovative revenue management system, traditionally used in travel and hospitality industries, Holiday Retirement has consistently experienced a 10 percent revenue increase in new leases since the new system was fully deployed in 2014.

To create and implement a delivery program in New York City that is both sustainable and business friendly, the New York City Department of Transportation, in conjunction with researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s VREF Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems, developed the Off Hours Delivery (OHD) Project. This project, which began in 2002 to transform urban freight policy by transitioning delivery times to the off-hours of 7 p.m.-6 a.m. when New York City streets are less congested, is currently in use by more than 400 establishments and is being implemented internationally.

The implementation of this project benefited from collaborative research conducted with colleagues at New York University and Princeton University. By incorporating a range of operations research and management science techniques, including routing models, traffic simulation, decision theory and statistical interference, the project has increased safety by reducing the potential for pedestrian-freight vehicle conflicts, decreased “last mile” delivery costs by 35 percent, and reduced vehicle emissions by 50 percent to 60 percent.

Previous winners of the Franz Edelman Award include UPS, IBM, Syngenta, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, among others. For more information on the Franz Edelman award, see

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