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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business School

Analysing rostering patterns at a leading ferry company

Published: 8 June 2016
Kathrin Schreiber
Student Kathrin Schreiber (centre) with Janet Haberfield and Jane Evans from Red Funnel

A summer placement by a Southampton Business School postgraduate has helped a city company to gain new insights about one of its key systems.

Cross-Solent ferry company Red Funnel engaged Kathrin Schreiber, a Masters student of Business Analytics and Management Sciences, for a three month project to examine its crew rostering processes and suggest improvements.

Supported by Professor Patrick Beullens, who is based both in the Business School and Mathematics at the University of Southampton, Kathrin interviewed staff to get a full picture of the company’s crewing requirements before modelling the system and devising an easy-to-use algorithm for staff to use while allocating crews to vessels.

“This was a new field for me as I did not know much about the marine industry but I enjoyed using my analytical skills to understand what was needed and come up with a programme to deal with issues around staff sickness, holidays and overtime costs. It was a very worthwhile project for me,” says Kathrin, who is now working as a consultant in Hamburg.

Red Funnel Fleet and Technical Director Mark Slawson was delighted by Kathrin’s achievements: “She thoroughly analysed our crewing systems and came up with a useful Excel spreadsheet tool which has helped us improve our efficiency in rostering 11 crews onto our three car ferries across each week. We were very impressed with her achievements and will be offering placements to two more postgraduate students this summer.”

University of Southampton Pro Vice-Chancellor, International, Professor Mark Spearing says: “This is an excellent example of the University’s strong links with business. Our students make a tremendous contribution to companies and organisations around the world.”

The placements have been organised for more than 30 years by the University’s Centre of Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems (CORMSIS) based in the Southampton Business School and Mathematics.

CORMSIS Industry Liaison Officers: Julie Hickman and Peter Becque

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