Systems Modelling, Operations Research, and Decision Support

Research Group Members:

James Bekker
Associate Professor
Research Groups:
USMA
Systems Modelling, Operations Research, and Decision Support

Daniel Lötter
Lecturer
Research Groups:
SUnORE
Systems Modelling, Operations Research, and Decision Support

Louzanne Bam (née Oosthuizen)
Lecturer
Research Groups:
Health Systems Engineering
Systems Modelling, Operations Research, and Decision Support

Jan H van Vuuren
Professor
Research Groups:
SUnORE
Systems Modelling, Operations Research, and Decision Support
More info: Research Interests: Graph and Network Theory, Combinatorial Optimisation, Scheduling Problems

The Unit for Systems Modelling and Analysis (USMA) is a research group comprising of post graduate students within the Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University. The focus of the group is the research and application of advanced analytic methods. Research ideas and outputs are shared amongst members providing a platform for continual development.

Methods and techniques used include a combination of metaheuristics, computer simulation, mixed-integer linear programming, Markov chains, cooperative game theory and queuing theory. A large scope of the outputs fall under, though are not limited to, the field of Operations Research.

Much of the research within the unit deals with the field of discrete-event simulation (DES) in combination with metaheuristics as an optimisation tool. This applies in particular to dynamic, complex stochastic processes where the solution space is discrete and the number of possible solutions is too large for a formal experimental design. Also there might exist multiple, conflicting objectives. Enter multi-objective optimisation, the rich field of research that the group spends much effort upon. Metaheuristics such as the genetic algorithm (GA), population-based incremental learning algorithm (PBIL) as well as the Harmonic Search algorithm (HS) are used in simulation optimisation. The cross-entropy method, tabu search and simulated annealing are also used as optimisers. One aspect of the research is to find more efficient and faster algorithms – by modifying them or developing new ones – to mitigate the computational burden imposed by simulation models of real-world systems while ensuring statistical confidence. Industrial problems provide engineering applications and validation test benches for optimisation models.

USMA logo

The SUnORE (acronym for Stellenbosch Unit for Operations Research and Engineering) group focusses on the development of mathematical models and their incorporation into computerised systems aimed at supporting scientifically justifiable and effective decisions in industry. These models draw from the scientific fields of applied mathematics, statistics engineering and computer science, and are applicable in the context of complex problems which admit a large variety of trade-off solutions. The group has forged strong decision support ties with a number of industry partners in the agricultural, retail, banking, insurance and military sectors. The group also collaborates with and supports a number of parastatals, NGOs and non-profit organisations. Examples of the types of decisions for which decision support is typically provided by the group includes (but is not limited to):

  • Routing and scheduling decisions for fleets of delivery vehicles,
  • Employee duty roster or timetabling decisions for the manufacturing and health sectors,
  • Shelf-space allocation and inventory decisions for retailers,
  • Crop irrigation and agricultural pest-control strategy decisions,
  • Power generator maintenance scheduling decisions in the energy sector,
  • Facility location decisions for effective radar and tele-communication, and
  • Threat evaluation and weapon assignment decisions in ground-based air defence scenarios.

In addition to producing work of a high standard, the group also strives to create an inclusive environment for the training, development and inspiration of innovative, yet responsible, scientific young minds.

You may visit the SUnORE website by clicking here.

SUnORE Logo final

Jancke Eygelaar
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Estimation of unplanned capability loss factors for generator maintenance scheduling Research Area: Operations Research

Janneke Lötter
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Development of a Decision Support System for Shelf Space Allocation of Fresh Produce in the Retail Sector Research Area: Operations Research

Johan Janse van Rensburg
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis, Sustainable Systems
Thesis Topic: Techno-economic analysis of technology for the conversion of biomass to electricity in Hessequa Municipality, aided by system dynamics modelling Research Area: Renewable Energy

Jurgens Pieterse
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis, Enterprise Engineering
Thesis Topic: An Industry information reference framework enabling semantic and syntactic interoperability in the industry of parliaments based on enterprise architecture design principles Research Area: Industrial Engineering

Lisha du Plessis
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Development of a direct marketing optimisation model with respect to channel and target selection Research Area: Optimisation

Marelise Hattingh
Research Group:
Health systems engineering, Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Developing a decision support tool to optimize crisis discharge policies at Stikland Psychiatric hospital’s in-patient ward with the goal to reduce the readmission rates. Research Area: Health Care, Data Mining, Operational Research, Decision Support

Mark Sklar-Chik
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Lifecycle costing of energy technologies Research Area: Renewable Energy

Mncedisi Trinity Dewa
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis, Enterprise Engineering
Thesis Topic: Development of a Holonic Control System for the Tool, Die and Mould making industry in South Africa Research Area: Resource Efficient Production Engineering

Nina Uys
Research Group:
Health systems engineering, Systems Modelling and Analysis
Research Area: Healtcare, Operations Research, Ergonomics, Productivity Analysis

Renier Steynberg
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Identifying success indicators for tertiary students Research Area: Operations Research

Ryno Brits
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
Thesis Topic: Multi-objective inventory management of coal stockpiles Research Area: Simulation and Multi-Objective Optimisation

Smit van Niekerk
Research Group:
Systems Modelling and Analysis, Sustainable Systems
Thesis Topic: Agriculture sector implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: A system dynamics modelling approach to food crop production Research Area: Engineering Management

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