Inside ORSNZ – 2022 and Digital Twins

Nga mihi o te tau hou Pakeha! (Happy – Western – New Year!)

It feels like the summer break is well and truly over now (it may have been over for some time for many of you). I wanted to wish everyone in ORSNZ the best for 2022 and start making more frequent posts here given there are now less opportunities to meet in person.

I was chatting with a friend of mine over the weekend who supplies equipment to manufacturers. He explained how their equipment offered a chance for good workflow improvement, but that this opened up a can of worms as the manufacturing company they were engaged with started wondering about what other improvements could be made and, consequently, paused on any commitment until they could think things through more fully. During our conversation I realised that the manufacturers needed a digital twin to help decision making. Many of us know digital twins as simulations although I think there is more emphasis on visualisation and integration of real-time data with digital twins. As the conversation evolved it seemed like many of his customers had similar needs, i.e., they were keen to make improvements but had no easy way to evaluate and decide on which improvements to make and how. This conversation demonstrated to me the continued and perhaps increasing relevance of operations research.

To me, the trend of the last 10 years or so has been:
1) “Get the data”;
2) “We’ve got the data, now what?”, “Look at the data!” – analytics and visualisation;
3) “We’re looking at the data, what is it telling us?”, “Let’s look for trends or try and see what will happen next!” – data science and machine learning.

In many cases steps 2 and 3 were enough to inform improved decision making, but for complex systems like integrated manufacturing lines, hospitals, even NZ public health, being able to experiment with and evaluate the effect of decisions is key for improved decision makers. Understanding a complex system and effects of changes to that system is one of the main goals of simulation. Combining simulation with good visualisation and near real-time data, i.e., making the simulation a digital twin, improves the interpretability and utility of the simulation for supporting good decision making.

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I recognise that operations research can also automate decision making via, e.g., mathematical programming, but just understanding the effect of decisions throughout the entirety of a complex system via a digital twin can bring better decision making.

Ngā mihi if you have read this far. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss digital twins or anything else OR-related.

Noho ora mai, Mike (ORSNZ President)

Risk and Decision-Making Conference: Call for Abstracts

The Australasian Bayesian Network Modelling Society and the Society for Risk Analysis Australia New Zealand warmly invite you to submit abstracts for their combined annual meeting. This will be held in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington on 13-14 November 2019, at Rutherford House, Victoria Business School.

The theme of the meeting, risk and decision-making, reflects on the different aspects of risks that the individual societies have addressed in the past and plays on the conference location in Wellington, the capital of and centre of government for New Zealand. However, the conference will address more than governmental decision-making. It aims to bring together researchers, consultants, regulators, and policy-makers to discuss how different aspects of risk analysis underpin responsible decision-making. Weaving in Mātauranga Māori and other First Nation knowledge improves the culturally-appropriateness of these decisions.

Risks and their management are an integral part of our lives in the 21st century. Identifying and assessing risks and their uncertainties is paramount for organisations and governments (from local to international) to be able to incorporate these risks into policies and decision-making to protect people, the environment and the economy. The Scientific Programme includes various topic streams, spanning Natural Hazards under a Changing Climate, Biosecurity, Chemical Management, Organisations and Governance, and Health.

Please visit the conference website for further information and to submit an abstract by 31 August 2019.

Invitation to celebrate Hans Daellenbach Prize award: ORSNZ Wellington Branch Social Networking Event

Dr Michael O’Sullivan, President of the Operations Research Society of New Zealand, invites you to join him for drinks and nibbles as he briefly discusses ORSNZ current activities within NZ and presents Professor Vicky Mabin with the ORSNZ’s premier award, the Hans Daellenbach Prize, for contributions to OR in NZ and internationally.

The award was announced at last year’s ORSNZ conference. You can read the citation here.

Tuesday 23 October 2018, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Vic Books Café /Bar, Ground Floor, Rutherford House, Bunny Street, Wellington

RSVP for catering purposes by Tuesday noon to [email protected]

Enquiries: [email protected]


Brief bio:

Professor Vicky Mabin, from the Victoria Business School, specialises in the Theory of Constraints and systems thinking methods along with traditional OR to improve operational processes, organisational change, priority setting and resource allocation decisions

2018 Joint NZSA and ORSNZ Conference

The New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) and the Operations Research Society of New Zealand (ORSNZ) are holding a joint conference hosted by Massey University at their Manawatu campus in 2018. This conference incorporates both the 69th Annual NZSA Conference and the 52nd annual ORSNZ Conference.

The conference presentations and other events will be held from midday Tuesday 27th November to Friday 30th November 2018. However, the ORSNZ sessions will be completed by midday Thursday, followed by an Analytics Forum event on Thursday afternoon (details to be confirmed).

Plenary Speakers

The following plenary speakers have been confirmed for the conference:

Stefan Nickel –  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology;
Ilze Ziedins – University of Auckland;
Alan Welsh – Australian National University; and
Jean Yang – University of Sydney.

You can find additional details here.

Call for Papers

On August 1 2018, you will be able to register and submit an abstract for the 2018 Joint NZSA and ORSNZ Conference. We welcome presentations on any aspect of operations research, analytics or management science, especially practical applications.

Submissions from students and practitioners are greatly encouraged. Abstracts should be submitted using the format outlined here.

Oral presentations will be 20 minutes in length with additional time for questions. All abstracts will be considered by the conference committee, and the authors notified of their acceptance or otherwise.

Note that the abstract submission deadline is October 1. You may additionally submit a full paper to ORSNZ, by November 15, to have it included in the online proceedings; please follow these guidelines.


Early bird registration closes on November 1. Please see this page for details about the registration fees.

Note that the ORSNZ and NZSA are hosting separate dinners, and there is a separate (additional) fee for each.

ORSNZ Young Practitioners’ Prize (YPP)

OR practitioners and students who are within 5 years of graduation on the first day of the conference (27 November) are invited to compete for $1000 of prizes in the ORSNZ Young Practitioners’ Prize competition. When registering for the conference, competitors should request that their paper be entered for the YPP. Note that a full paper, following these guidelines, must be submitted to ORSNZ by November 15 in order enter the YPP. For further details about the YPP, see here.