Operations Management





Operations Management

The four fundamental strategic questions that the city analysts asked during their search for a snow removal solution were:

  1. How much snow falls in New York City?
  2. What amount of work is needed to clean up the ice?
  3. What is the capacity of the city to perform this work?
  4. What improvements are necessary to eliminate any imbalance between the workload and work capacity?

To answer the first question, the team had to carry out an analysis of weather over the past years. The team used a methodical search of United States weather records dating back to 1910. This search revealed that storms matching or exceeding the current depth of 15 inches occur once every twelve years on average. In addition, the analysis indicated that the annual average snow was 33 inches, with an average season having only two storms that are greater than 4 inches. It also indicated that an average season has 6 to 7 snowstorms going above one inch. In addition, it indicated that accumulation of snow during a storm could go as high as 10.4 inches within 8 hours.

To answer the second question about how much work had to be done to clean up snow; the analysis team conducted a research concerning what is usually done to clear the ice. It found out that three activities are involved. These include, spreading of salt, plowing and hauling. In addition to analyzing the activities required for each size of snow, the team found it necessary to examine the street systems such as their size and the amount of salt or plowing that each would need.

For the third question, concerned with capacity of the city in carrying out the work, the team analyzed the kind, amount, as well as the productivity of the equipment available. In this assessment, it was found that 40% of the equipment was out of commission. This meant that a significant number of plows and spreaders could not operate. In addition, the team assessed the number of hours each piece of equipment would need to clean up a particular area of snow.

In the final question, about what improvements needed to be made to eliminate the imbalance between workload and capacity, it was found out to be within the deployment of the equipment and workforce mobilization. As the equipment was considered capable of clearing the snow within six hours, the team realized that an imbalance existed within the geographic deployment of the equipment. This was because most of the vehicles used for plowing were refuse-collection trucks, meaning most of them were in densely populated areas; thus, there was a need to make improvements for plowing all areas including those not densely populated.

The two key issues that needed improvement in order to speed up the plowing of streets were geographic deployment of the equipment, and the rate of mobilizing manpower to handle the equipment. During the storm, majority of the workers were not able to reach their workstations because it was not possible to get out of their homes. In the first key issue, the team realized that the majority of the vehicles used for plowing were refuse-collection trucks that were fitted with plows. As aforementioned, this meant that the majority were deployed in densely populated areas with more refuse to collect. Therefore, redeploying them during snowstorms was hard especially at the lowly populated areas. The reason is that a one-mile street with many residents will require more refuse-collection trucks than a one-mile street with few residents. Contrary to this distribution is the deployment for snow plowing. The two areas would have an equal amount of snow to plow irrespective of population.

The second issue was the rate of mobilizing manpower necessary to operate the equipment. During the snowstorm, it is necessary to have the manpower ready for clean up before the snow accumulates to levels that can hinder commuting because the workers will be affected as well. In addition, the problem was heightened because the snow occurred on a Sunday. This can be solved by simply paying extra money to have additional workers deployed on Sundays.

The practical changes that were required before implementation of the plan were ensuring that the city had adequate and well functioning equipment to handle such emergencies, and enough manpower even on weekends. These changes would allow the city to deploy the equipment with ease as well as increase the rate of mobilizing the workers when such an emergency occurs.

A heuristic is a technique that one can use to look or search for a solution to a problem. The results of a heuristic are uncertain because it only tells a person of the strategy to use in order to get an answer. This way, the results of a heuristic are subject to chance because it does not indicate how to get from one point to another. Rather, it tells one how they can find the way. It is most appropriate when a clear method of getting a solution is not available, and quick decisions have to be made. It is reliant on informed guesses, rules of thumb or preconceived notions.

In contrast, an algorithm is a set of specifically defined instructions for undertaking a particular task, to achieve a certain result. It provides clearly established steps of moving from one point to another. With this method, one is aware of the results to expect at the end. It is dependent on evaluation of all possible methods to eliminate those that might not lead to the result. It is reliant of well thought out strategies. It is reliable when there is enough time to go through the entire scenario and assess all possibilities. One of the main differences between the two is that a heuristic will not guarantee certain answers while an algorithm will provide expected answers or solutions. In addition, a heuristic is most suited when there is an emergency that requires quick solution while the algorithm is suited when there is time to analyze all possibilities.

The heuristic developed to improve the routing of salt spreaders suggests that trucks should not be assigned specific streets. Rather, their route should be dependent on the proximity of the street to the salt pile facility. This means that a truck should spread salt to the nearest route from the salt pile facility that has not been assigned yet. The heuristic defines three ways of routing the truck. The first one is assigning a truck to the street segment that can be covered using one truckload. The second factor is that this route should not have been assigned to another truck, and should be the closest unassigned route from the starting point.

The main purpose of using this method is to reduce the amount of time used by each truck in order to spread salt. In the algorithm method where each truck was assigned certain street segments, some trucks had to use more time because of the distance from he pile facility. However, the heuristic method allows both trucks to use the same minutes because they are likely to cover the same distance, thereby reducing the amount of time one truck will spend returning for refill.

In the old way, the salt spreaders were routed by assigning them to specific routes. For instance, truck A could be assigned several streets within a certain area while truck B would be assigned another section of streets. Neither of the trucks was supposed to salt where another truck is already assigned. In this method, if one of the areas is further than the other is from the salt pile facility, the truck assigned the route will need more time to cover the distance while the other truck will use remarkably little time because its route is near the refill point. Further distance from the pile facility means the truck will have more distance to cover for reloading. In addition, the old method is likely to increase deadheading especially on one-way streets where they have to go all the way and return without spreading. Conversely, the heuristic establishes routes that are two-way, allowing the truck to spread half its salt on the way and the other half on the opposite side of the street.

The basic idea of the heuristic proposed in this paper is that the salt pile facility should determine the routes that should be covered first. It suggests that trucks should not have pre-assigned routes to cover. Rather, a truck should take the route nearest the pile facility that has not yet been taken by another truck. It also suggests that streets should be divided into segments that can be completed with one truckload. In addition to splitting the sections to those that can be covered with one truckload, it suggests that they should be two-way in order to allow the trucks to spread half of their salt to and the other half on their way back. The idea is that by all tracks starting with the nearest routes to the salt pile, it will reduce the amount of time one truck spends covering longer distances.

The new heuristic developed has several benefits. One of the benefits is reducing the amount of time used for traveling to spread salt. By ensuring that all trucks take the closest route, the time of traveling is balanced between all the vehicles, which in turn reduce the amount used to complete the whole operation to a minimum. The other advantage of this heuristic is that by starting with the closest routes to the salt pile and being assigned the next closest, the trucks will be using the initially cleaned routes to get to the next one. This reduces difficulty of traveling over icy roads. The other advantage is that, at any given time, the number of streets that are salted is at maximum. Evenly deploying the trucks to the closest segments means that less time will be taken because of smaller distance to travel. Another advantage is that workload between the trucks is balanced because none has to cover longer distances than the other does.

Calculate your order
275 words
Total price: $0.00

Top-quality papers guaranteed


100% original papers

We sell only unique pieces of writing completed according to your demands.


Confidential service

We use security encryption to keep your personal data protected.


Money-back guarantee

We can give your money back if something goes wrong with your order.

Enjoy the free features we offer to everyone

  1. Title page

    Get a free title page formatted according to the specifics of your particular style.

  2. Custom formatting

    Request us to use APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or any other style for your essay.

  3. Bibliography page

    Don’t pay extra for a list of references that perfectly fits your academic needs.

  4. 24/7 support assistance

    Ask us a question anytime you need to—we don’t charge extra for supporting you!

Calculate how much your essay costs

Type of paper
Academic level
550 words

How to place an order

  • Choose the number of pages, your academic level, and deadline
  • Push the orange button
  • Give instructions for your paper
  • Pay with PayPal or a credit card
  • Track the progress of your order
  • Approve and enjoy your custom paper

Ask experts to write you a cheap essay of excellent quality

Place an order