Public Defence Sem van Brummelen

Bloody fast blood collection 

Sem van Brummelen is a PhD Student in the Stochastic Operations Research Group (SOR). His supervisors are professor Nico van Dijk and professor Richard Boucherie from the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

Every year, over 700,000 blood and plasma donations are collected at Sanquin’s collection sites throughout the Netherlands. As blood donations are done on a voluntary and non-remunerated basis, delays and waiting times within blood collection sites should be kept at acceptable levels. However, waiting times are currently not incorporated in staff planning or in other decisions with respect to blood collection sites. Sem van Brummelen’s PhD thesis “Bloody Fast Blood Collection” provides mathematical approaches from the field of Operations Research, aiming to decrease waiting times and leveling work pressure at blood collection sites, without the need for additional staff.  

The thesis consists of two main parts. The first part presents approaches that are developed to evaluate queues and waiting times at blood collection sites in a structured and replicable manner. The second part uses these evaluation methods to develop optimization approaches. These approaches find the best or a very good solution for challenges at blood collection sites like staff scheduling and appointment scheduling.

Effort and investment required for the implementation of the approaches differ between approaches. Some of the methods, such as the staff scheduling algorithm, can be implemented with relatively low investment, and can already decrease the largest queues. If all approaches presented in this thesis would be combined, queues at blood collection sites can be expected to be significantly reduced, and often even removed.