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In the spotlight: Olaf Witsen


In this "in the spotlight" Olaf focuses on optimizing processes within logistics environments. Curious what challenges he faces and how he solves them? you can read it here!

Who are you?

I’m Olaf Witsen, working at the advanced analytics department of Districon since 2019. I have a background in both industrial engineering & econometrics. Where I did a specialization in quantitative logistics & operations research. After writing my master thesis on the optimization of production scheduling within complex manufacturing environments, I decided that I liked the projects and people at Districon so much that I wanted to work there and so here we are a couple of years later.

Besides work, I like to be sportive and active to challenge the body and the mind. Where I truly believe in the credo that if you’re dreams are not scaring you, they are not big enough. Which is a credo that I also like to apply in my work environment.

My experiences

The past years my assignments have been more and more in the manufacturing industry. One of the coolest aspects of the manufacturing industry to me is that it kind of feels like the tv-program of ‘how it’s made’ that always fascinated me as a kid. Just seeing all the flow of goods and seeing how something is created from raw materials just keeps on inspiring me. Although someone wise once said “Size matters not”, there is a thing about these mega factories and the heavy industry that just makes things even more inspiring to me.

What makes this industry also interesting to me is that the variety of questions in the manufacturing industry varies a lot. For example, with merges and acquisitions you typically see non-matching data formats across factories within the same company that create challenges to put them in a universal analysis tool. Also, there is more and more realization that there is a real need to produce more sustainable and climate friendly, causing all kinds of logistical and supply chain questions.

Curious to read more about a (short) selection of our capabilities in production planning & scheduling, make sure to then check out the following links:

Thinking about the next generation does not only entail improving sustainability in the manufacturing industry, but also to inspire the next generation. Therefore, I think it is a great asset that we at Districon give guest lectures at universities on a regular basis. Actually, this is also the way that I got in touch with Districon.

Vision for the future

Regarding the coming years/decades, I believe that we are still only at the start of the digital revolution. The rapid increase of IoT-technology will enable for much more data availability, enhancing the possibilities to apply advanced analytics and making factories more efficient and productive. Also, there is still lots more developments regarding different techniques that encompass advanced data analytics.

One of the areas in advanced data analytics that will be most interesting to watch is the development of AI in my opinion. For sure, there is still lots of development going on in improving the traditional operational research methodologies to tackle optimization problems. However, I also see that there are more and more possibilities for optimization getting some help from AI algorithms. Especially since the field of AI is evolving rapidly, I see a bright future ahead of us where AI will start to play a bigger and bigger role in the optimization algorithm framework.

Furthermore, I would like to change up a saying that is told a lot in business slang: It’s not a sprint, it’s not a marathon, it’s an ironman triathlon! We have to adjust this saying, since the business questions that we tackle demand a much more multidisciplinary approach.

Which colleague will be in the spotlight next?

Curious to hear what Geography and Supply Chain have in common? Kyle studied both, so make sure to keep posted for the next edition of ‘In the spotlight’.

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