Organizations need effective ways to enhance and maintain their assets and operations at a level of quality and service that the public is willing to support through investment. Doing so often presents complex decisionmaking problems that require application of operations research to arrive at the best solutions.
Most organizations are not fully harnessing the power of their operations. They view optimization programs as a “Black Box,” and consequently do not adopt optimization analysis practices to support highway investment decisions. Some optimization applications rely on extensive “parameter” data to support the analysis, requiring collection of years of data. Although applications are built with sound mathematical models, they deliver only “scientific” results rather than practical and understandable solutions. Moreover, objective functions in the applications focus only on technical objectives, lacking broader objectives consistent with those of the overall organization.
Weris recognizes that every business challenge demands the ability to make informed decisions about key programs, investments, and technologies; control cost; and understand risk. Current economic conditions also increase the emphasis on accountability, transparency, and spending effectiveness.
Weris’s expertise in operations research focuses on robust quantitative analytical services to help inform complex decisions by understanding the probable cost, risk, and performance outcomes.
Weris offers a full range of operations research services to support complex program and project decisionmaking:
- Develop practical analysis frameworks (including formulating the problem and constructing mathematical models (principles, objective functions, and constraints) using operations research methodologies.
- Develop the procedures required to put the solution framework into operations and demonstrate application of the framework (including solution derivation, execution procedures, framework testing, and implementation).
These services can be applied in many areas, including:
- Definition of key performance measures
- Cost estimation for discrete activities, for example, maintenance or enhancement projects
- Research on existing statistical tools and models to determine applicability to specific problems
- Determination of lifecycle costs and return on investment
- Development of asset maintenance and enhancement strategies
- Creation of resource allocation, operations plans, and budgets
- Weris assisted a large state transportation agency in a major business process reengineering effort to define and document the vision, business principles, processes, information flow, and organizational decision models for its asset management programs. These processes address key concepts: needs-based planning and performance-based allocation, team-based decision models, three-level results measurement model (outcome, output, activity), and budgets linked to performance and operational targets across different asset types.
- We developed and applied the concept of “unconstrained needs” as a common denominator to assess and compare maintenance needs across different asset types. Based on the result, Weris formulated the problem, developed the mathematical model, and created an algorithm to derive the optimal solution. Two fundamental kinds of allocation decisions were rationalized—allocation across similar assets and allocation among different assets.
- We developed the estimate for routine maintenance activities to help a commercial client evaluate and develop lifecycle maintenance activity cost for a customer’s highways. Efforts focused on analyzing collected information and performing calculations for cost estimation.
- As a prime contractor, we are currently investigating use of construction cost index data in developing project cost estimates, primarily for the Engineer’s Estimate, but also for planning-level estimates. The study covers various types and sizes of state transportation projects, including major projects spanning several years.
- Weris developed a framework to support state transportation departments to conduct systematic analysis and make decisions on outsourcing and privatization of vehicle and equipment fleet maintenance. The framework defines a decision process model applicable to a wide range of outsourcing decision alternatives. The focus is the unique features of state DOT fleet maintenance.
- We assessed the decisionmaking context within state DOTs for resource allocation to preserve highway assets and the characteristics of an appropriate resource allocation strategy, considering factors such as data quality and availability. We also assessed forecasting tools for managing various categories of assets, risks, and liabilities to consider, and the changeability of priorities DOTs experience. We specified an optimization framework and objective functions useable in preservation-resource allocation.