A novel forecasting tool for Engineering resource planning

21st July 2016

In my Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, cutting-edge engineering management research from Strathclyde University was transferred to Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), the UK’s biggest bus manufacturer. The project deliverable was a forecasting tool for ADL based on a novel predictive modelling method. It utilizes the collective knowledge and experience of in-house engineering experts rather than historical data which is common in standard forecasting techniques.

Thus, a key part of my work was the interaction with engineering experts at ADL to deliver a strategic change to the company. The work with engineers from different technical departments and across the UK was not only interesting for me, but involved a steep learning curve and exposure to different business cultures in the UK. With our forecasting tool, resource forecasts can now be generated in less than 30 minutes, which used to be a process that could take up to several days. The improved resource forecasting capability at ADL will be of value for the tender enquiry process, engineering resource management and project planning. The strategic implications of this KTP project are enhancing ADL’s competitive advantage and allowing for more effective resourcing and delivery of New Product Development projects.

My KTP experience had not be the same without the numerous development opportunities which were enabled through generous project budgets. I gained a professional qualification in project management, attended technical classes and courses at university, worked with academics and presented at academic conferences. This allowed me to gain invaluable academic experiences and encouraged me to continue with a PhD after the KTP project.

My KTP journey has been enriched from interactions and exchanges with other Associates. It is fantastic to know that the project is part of a wider network of KTP projects in the UK. I not only met other Associates across the UK in residential modules, but actively engaged with the KTP Associates in East and West Scotland by setting up networking events. This turned into a KTP Associates Networking Committee which I chaired together with a fellow KTP Associate. We met in Edinburgh and Glasgow for events, amongst others we prepared our own KTP gin, explored the Christmas market and the Science Festival in Edinburgh.

The project exceeded the expectations of stakeholders and its success was also externally recognised with the receipt of the inaugural Scottish Knowledge Exchange Award in February 2016. This “mini Oscar moment” when my name was announced as winner in the category “building skills” at the Interface awards will not be forgotten. Overall, my KTP experience has been so much more than just a work experience that involved academia and industry. I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate and motivated about the project topic and encourage all my fellow KTP Associates to go the extra mile to make the most out of their unique experience.