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O.R. IN EVERYDAY LIFE

O.R. Inside Your Gas Supply

Are you one of the millions who have saved money by switching gas suppliers? If so, you may be interested to know that it's only thanks to O.R. inside that it has been possible to offer you a choice of supplier. In reality, of course, exactly the same gas is delivered to your boiler, regardless of which company you buy it from. But the competitive supply regime works on the basis that, each day, your supplier will put into the network the same amount of gas as you take out of it. So how do they do that, given that your meter is only read perhaps once or twice a year? A clear case for O.R. inside!

Demand data from a small sample of gas users is analysed, enabling a mathematical model to be created, which expresses gas demand as a function of the weather (temperature and wind chill being the critical factors) and day of the week, for several classes of users. Then, given each day's temperature and wind chill figures and the number of customers in each category that your supplier has, the model works out very accurately how much gas your supplier needs to input to the network on any day. The competitive supply regime simply could not exist without this O.R. inside.

There is also O.R. inside the long term planning of the gas distribution network. Since it takes several years to plan and build new pipelines and storage facilities, plans are laid up to ten years in advance. First, forecasts of gas demand for average weather patterns are prepared, and then simulations are carried out using decades of weather data to estimate the once in twenty years peak daily demand.

So thanks to the O.R. inside, not only can you save money on your gas bills, you can also be confident that the gas distribution system will cope with demand except, maybe, in the rarest and most extreme of weather conditions.

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