Give a real-world problem to ten mathematicians and you’ll end up with ten completely different solutions. That’s no surprise if you’re a mathematician yourself. Calculus, algebra, trigonometry, graph theory, number theory, combinatorics, set theory—you name it, the science of math is so rich that any given problem can be tackled in many different ways.
In the first episode of the OMP Tech Talk podcast, I explain how in my first assignment at OMP more than 15 years ago I solved a rather tricky supply chain problem called campaign planning. I didn’t know much about campaign planning at the time until my coach, a senior OMP consultant, explained it to me. I was then able to turn to the mathematical toolkit I had explored for my PhD thesis—network optimization—to create a mathematical programming solver that worked really well.
Campaign planning has been one of my favorite supply chain planning subjects ever since, and I know much more about it today. For example, I know that campaigns in the chemical industry might run for days or even weeks while, in the consumer goods industry, we’re typically talking about much shorter ‘within-the-day’ campaigns. The interrelation between upstream and downstream campaigns is also very different depending on the industry, as is the incidence of cross-bucket campaigns.
No problem can be solved once and for all, especially since supply chains are more than ever subject to continuous change. I now know there’s never a dull moment with a campaign planning problem.
I’m now in charge of a whole team at OMP working on optimization, including campaign planning solvers. It won’t surprise you that we’re not betting on a single mathematical method in these solutions. We’re adopting a hybrid approach, using a variety of mathematical programming techniques and heuristic methods, including XAI and machine learning.
Instead of ten mathematicians devising ten solutions, we’re an integrated team of mathematicians working together on one hybrid but standardized solution, tailored to the industries we serve. The power of teamwork!
With 15 years of experience at OMP, David is a Senior Functional Product Manager in the planning cycle team, focusing on optimizing our planning solutions and adding value for our customers in a variety of industries.