Applications of Operations Research and Analytics

Successful OR and analytics applications can be found across all industries dealing with challenges such as planning, routing, scheduling, forecasting, process analysis and decision analysis. The following are some examples of the COE's experience.

Transportation and travel

Airlines depend on the effective use of OR techniques to ensure that they are generating profits. For instance, Yield Management helps fill more seats at different prices. Other applications include improving the efficiency of Vancouver International Airport’s passenger transportation systems and the efficiency of HandyDART’s transportation network (a service for passengers with mobility challenges).

Customer service

Labour-intensive service industries can employ OR techniques to carefully manage shifts to ensure target service performance while remaining cost effective. Examples include improving order delivery in drive-thru services at a fast food chain, improving employee shift scheduling for a ski resort company and improving customer service levels for a beverage company.

Manufacturing and supply chain

Longer supplier lead times and growing customer expectations have increased the demand for better forecasting. This is why it is imperative that manufacturers, whether they make chemicals or canned foods, are able to reduce supply risks, improve inventory management, and improve distribution systems.


OR plays a key role in modernizing government services. This includes exploring approaches to better manage performance-related contracts, assessing government call-centers and evaluating national defense systems. Specifically, risk analysis of major construction projects in BC had been employed for WorkSafeBC leading to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Health care

Hospitals turn to OR to optimize patient flow, usage of facilities (such as imaging facilities) and surgical block schedules. For instance, Fraser Health Authority models patient pathways for capacity planning, BC Cancer Agency employs chemotherapy scheduling analysis and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority performs efficiency assessment of porter operations.

Financial services

OR addresses issues such as portfolio and risk management, planning and analysis of customer service. It is widely employed in Credit Risk Management – a vital area for lenders needing to find the optimum balance between risk and revenue. Another example is OR’s role in helping an investment firm identify investor behavior and segmentation of retail clients.

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