THE EDELMAN AWARD
About the Award
Operations research is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. The Franz Edelman competition recognizes and rewards outstanding examples of operations research as it is practiced throughout the world.
The award is named in honor of the late Franz Edelman. Dr. Edelman established the operations research group at RCA, which was one of the earliest industrial O.R. groups in North America. He worked for over 30 years at RCA and is counted among the fathers of innovation in the field.
Because the judges of the Edelman Award seek proof of excellence, accomplishment, and impact relative to the competing organization, the Edelman competition provides numerous examples of excellence that may help you model solutions to your organization’s problems.
The Impact of Edelman-Level Work on Organizations
- Agriculture: Syngenta Seed used Operations Research (O.R.) to plan production for seed varieties that account for 80 percent of its total sales volume, with annual projected increases in production of $5 million.
- Automotive: The General Motors O.R. team saved the automaker more than $2 billion through improved productivity at 30 assembly plants in ten countries. The savings were realized using novel, state-of-the-art algorithms and modeling systems to produce in-demand products on a timely basis without incurring additional overtime costs on the production line. GM estimates a 5,000 percent ROI on its O.R. investment.
- Aviation: Anticipating major weather events that could cause massive delays at airports, Continental Airlines adopted an O.R.-based technology to reduce the cost and customer inconvenience of disruptions. Continental estimates that in 2001, the year of the September 11 attacks, the system helped it save approximately $40 million.
- Broadcasting: NBC used O.R. to improve sales-force productivity, reduce rework by over 80 percent, and improve customer satisfaction among its advertisers, increasing revenues by over $200 million during a four-year period.
- Computing: IBM developed intelligent models for matching assets with demand to determine which demands it could meet and when, and to provide manufacturing guidelines. The team's O.R.-driven work improved manufacturing utilization and customer-order response time. When it was launched, it resulted in asset utilization improvements of $80 million.
- Electronics: Combining O.R.-aided methods such as innovative bidding, online negotiations, and scenario-based optimization analysis, Motorola launched a comprehensive system to support the company’s sourcing process. As a result, Motorola’s savings have exceeded $600 million.
- Finance: With the advent of electronic securities trading, Merrill Lynch used O.R. to determine how it would launch its online Integrated Choice, determining the total revenue at risk, the likelihood of clients adopting the new product, and the impact on individual financial consultants. The resulting strategy let Merrill Lynch seize the marketplace initiative, change the financial services landscape, and mitigate the revenue risk.
- Food: The food giant Mars, working with IBM, developed an online auction system to make its purchasing process more efficient, both for its own companies and the vendors with which it collaborates. Using auction-based procurement techniques provided an average savings of 5 percent over expected costs of negotiations.
- Healthcare: This is not the first time that healthcare in the U.S. has been in crisis. Operations researchers helped address the nation’s problems in the 1980’s, when HCFA, the Health Care Finance Agency, developed diagnostic-related groups (DRGs). DRGs serve as a basis for budgeting, cost control, and quality control in hospitals. Adopted by Medicare in 1983, they saved more than $50 billion in Medicare hospital payments through 1990 and extended the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund’s solvency.
- Law Enforcement: An extensive multi-year effort successfully reduced 40- to 70-hour arrest and arraignment procedures to a more acceptable maximum of 24 hours in the City of New York. The O.R.-based reforms saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
- Manufacturing: Samsung implemented an O.R.-based system in all its semiconductor manufacturing facilities, reducing manufacturing cycle times to fabricate dynamic random access memory devices (DRAMs) from more than 80 days to fewer than 30. Fighting a decline of DRAM prices, it enabled Samsung to capture an additional $1 billion in sales revenue.
- Military: In 1999, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) faced sustained, increasing challenges. As a result of an O.R.-related strategic recruiting plan, the Army increased fiscal year 2000 military recruiting production by 17.5 percent, eliminated a forecasted 17,500 manpower deficit, and provided an estimated efficiency saving of $204 million from a $1 billion program – a 20 percent savings to taxpayers.
- Package and Freight Delivery: UPS adopted O.R.-based insights to devise a system to optimize the routing of its air operations, which involves over 17,000 origin-destination flows and more than 160 aircraft of nine different types. At last report, UPS had saved over $87 million and was anticipating additional savings of $189 million over a ten-year period.
- Public Health: Operations researchers at Yale helped the City of New Haven determine that providing clean syringes to drug addicts would reduce the spread of AIDS. Results suggest that the program reduced HIV/AIDS incidence by 33%.
- Retailing: Sears developed a geographic information system-based system to dispatch its repair technicians. The O.R.-related system resulted in decreased drive time, reduced technician overtime by 14 percent, increased completed calls by 4.6 percent, and improved time performance to 95 percent.
- Transportation: Canadian Pacific Railway took the risk of transforming itself from an unscheduled to a scheduled railroad using O.R.-based software. The change reduced Canadian Pacific's cost base by more than CDN $500 million, made service more reliable, increased profitability – and raised customer satisfaction.