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University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School

Department of Operations and Information Management

MIDTERM EXAM: OPIM 101, Spring 2009

Tuesday, March 3rd, 6:00-8:00pm.
Professors Cachon and Lee

Q1 Consider a process that has 3 stations, ordered in sequence: A, B and C. At each station, two
consecutive tasks are performed one after the other. The time (in seconds per unit) it takes for a
single person to perform each task is given in the table below (e.g., task A2 takes 10 seconds per
Station # of Task Task Task Task Task Task
Workers A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2
A 1 20 10 - - - -
B 2 - - 40 40 - -
C 1 - - - - 15 5

The table also gives the number of workers at each station. What is the capacity of this process
(in units per minute)?

Q2-3 Trader Bob, an organic food retail chain, operates 365 days a year. In 2007, the company
turned its inventory approximately 25 times. The companys COGS were 60% of its Sales and its
annual Sales were about $7,000M that year.

Q2 What was Trader Bobs average inventory in 2007 (in $M)?

Your initials: _________ Page 2 of 12

Q3 Assuming Trader Bobs annual inventory holding costs are 20% (an item that cost $10 to
purchase would cost $2 to hold in inventory for one year), what is the inventory cost of an item
which sells for $20 and costs Trader Bob $12 to buy? Assume that this item has inventory turns
of 25 per year.

Q4 Consider the following four step process:

The following data are available for the four steps:
Activity time per unit (min) 0.25 0.33 0.2 0.5
Capacity per worker (units/min) 4 3 5 2
Number of workers 2 3 2 4

Suppose the steps in activity D are made easier, so the activity time per unit in step D is reduced
by 50% (to 0.25 min per unit). If the assignment of workers to steps remains the same, by how
much does the capacity of the entire process increase in units per min?
Your initials: _________ Page 3 of 12

Q5 Panini, a popular sandwich shop, offers 3 types of sandwiches: Grill vegetables, grilled
chicken and pastrami. The table below provides demand data:

Grilled Vegetables Grilled Chicken Pastrami

Demand per hour 25 15 10

There are up to five steps in the process of making sandwiches, listed below with activity times.
Only 50% of customers want their sandwich toasted, no matter which sandwich is ordered.

Step Grilled Vegetables Grilled Chicken Pastrami

Cut bread .75 minutes .75 minutes .75 minutes
Grill 1.4 minutes 1.4 minutes -
Slice meat - - 3 minutes
Toast 2 minutes 2 minutes 2 minutes
Wrap .5 minutes .5 minutes .5 minutes

Suppose Panini employs 1 worker at each step. What is the highest implied utilization of this

Q6-8 Consider the following two step process:

Activity time (min) 1 0.1
Setup time (min) - 9
Step A has an activity time of 1 minute per unit but no setup is required. Step B has an activity
time of 0.1 minutes per unit but a setup time of 9 minutes is require per batch. A buffer with
ample inventory is allowed between the two steps.
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Q6 Suppose units are produced in batches of 5 (i.e., after each set of 5 units are produced, step B
must incur a setup of 9 minutes). What is the capacity of the process (in units per minute)?

Q7 What is the batch size that maximizes the flow rate of this process with minimal inventory?
Assume there is ample demand.

Q8 Now suppose the inventory buffer is removed between steps A and B:

Activity time (min) 1 0.1
Setup time (min) - 9
Thus, when B is being setup, A cannot work because there is no place to put its completed units.
Once B has finished its setup and is ready to work on units, A can resume its work because B is
now ready to accept As output. What batch size achieves a flow rate of 0.82 units per minute?
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Q9 Max Stamp approves study abroad documents for Penn. Students must wait in line with their
forms outside Max's office. One student at a time is allowed in his office and Max takes
precisely 25 minutes to evaluate each students set of documents. On average 2.2 students per
hour go to his office and they spend on average 160 minutes trying to get their forms approved
(time waiting in queue plus time in Maxs office having him evaluate their documents). On
average, how many students are waiting outside of Maxs office? Ignore start-of-the-day and
end-of-the-day effects.

Q10 Larry Ellison starts a company that manufacturers high-end custom leather bags. He hires
two employees. Each employee only begins working on a bag when a customer order has been
received and then she makes the bag from beginning to end. The average production time of a
bag is 1.8 days with a standard deviation of 2.7 days. Larry expects to receive one customer
order per day on average. The inter-arrival times of orders have a coefficient of variation of 1.

What is the expected duration, in days, between when an order is received and when production
begins on the bag (i.e. include the time waiting to start production but do not include the time in

Q11 A small call center normally has 5 employees answering calls while open. On average 5
calls arrive every 4 minutes with a CVa = 1. Under normal operating conditions each employee
on average handles each call in 3.5 minutes with a standard deviation of 3. But today, one
employee has the flu and they need to operate with 4 employees during this time. The manager in
nervous that they may be supply constrained and so she directs her employees to hurry up their
processing of calls today. What is the maximum average processing time for each call that they
need to achieve today so that they have a stable queue (i.e., they will be supply constrained if
their processing time is higher than this target and they will be demand constrained if it is lower
than this target)? Assume CVa and CVp dont change even after the potential change in
processing times.
Your initials: _________ Page 6 of 12

Q12 The Journal of Cryptic Psychology follows the following process to decide what to print.
First, authors submit their papers to one of the 40 Associate Editors who either rejects the
paper or allows the author to revise their paper. If the decision is revise then an author
revises his/her paper based on the Associate Editors comments, and when finished, submits the
revision to the Editor.
Associate 25% Reject
Editor Authors
20% Revise Accept
The Editor decides to reject or accept the paper and only accepted papers are printed in the
journal. Associate Editors choose revise with only 20% of papers they see and the Editor
accepts only 75% of the papers she sees. The average and standard deviation of processing times
are given in the table below:

Associate Editors Authors Revise Editor

Average processing time (in months) 2 6 0.2
Standard deviation of processing time (in months) 2 10 0.4

The journal prints on average 30 papers per year. On average, how many manuscripts are
currently being revised by authors?
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Q13-14 Bruno Fruscalzo decided to setup a small production facility in Sydney to sell to the
local restaurants who want to offer gelato on their dessert menu. To start simple, he would offer
only 3 flavors of gelato: fragola (strawberry), chocolato (chocolate) and bacio (chocolate with
hazelnut). After a short time he found his demand and setup times to be

Fragola Chocolato Bacio

Demand (kg/hour) 10 15 5
Setup time (hours) 3/4 1/2 1/6

Bruno first produces a batch of fragola, then a batch of chocolato, then a batch of bacio and then
he repeats that sequence. For example, after producing bacio and before producing fragola, he
needs 45 minutes to setup the ice cream machine, but he needs only 10 minutes to switch from
chocolato to bacio. When running, his ice cream machine produces at the rate of 50 kgs per hour
no matter which flavor it is producing (and of course it can produce only one flavor at a time).

Q13 Suppose Bruno wants to minimize the sizes of the batches he produces while still satisfying
the demand for each of the flavors. (He can choose a different batch size for each flavor.) What
batch size (in kgs) should he make of fragola?

Q14 Bruno is trying to negotiate a deal with his milk supplier. He needs about 9000 kgs of milk
per month. The suppliers trucks can carry 3000 kgs. If Bruno orders one truckload per order,
the supplier will charge only a $20 delivery fee, and $0.50 per kg. Bruno has the storage
capacity to handle ordering one truck at a time. Furthermore, he estimates with this deal his
inventory holding cost will be $0.01 per kg per month. If he takes this option, how much will he
spend on average per month in inventory holding costs and delivery charges?
Your initials: _________ Page 8 of 12

Q15-16 A process requires 6 tasks, A, B, C, D, E and F, that must be performed in that order.
Currently there are 3 employees that are equally skilled at each task. Employee 1 is assigned
tasks A and B, employee 2 is assigned tasks C and D and employee 3 is assigned tasks E and F.
The task times (all in seconds) are given in the process diagram below. For example, task A
requires 90 seconds.

90 40 60 20 50 10
Q15 Suppose the system started without any work in process inventory (i.e., an empty system).
How long would this process take to produce 10 units (in seconds)?.

Q16 Suppose now the 3 employees can be assigned to any task, but employees must be assigned
to consecutive tasks (e.g., an employee cannot be assigned tasks B and D). What would be the
processes maximum capacity (units per hour)?

Q17 A computer server currently has a queue of 5 jobs, sequenced from A to E with A the one
that has been waiting the longest and E the one that was most recently received. The following
table provides their processing times in milliseconds:

Time (milliseconds) 5 78 50 2 15

Suppose the server is designed to minimize the average waiting time across jobs (i.e., time in
queue waiting to start processing). Ignore the amount of time these jobs have been already
waiting and suppose the server is immediately available to start working on one of the jobs and
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the server is aware of each jobs processing time. What is the minimum total time these five jobs
will wait before beginning processing? (Additional jobs may or may not arrive before the
processing of these jobs is completed.) For example, if A is processed first and B next, then As
wait will be 0 and Bs wait will be 5 (the time to complete A) so the total time for these two jobs
alone is 0 + 5 = 5.

Q18 Recall the salt production process. At a facility on the island of Vanuatu they have 7 salt
pans, each covering 6 acres. The pans are flooded with sea water, and evaporation leaves the pan
dry, covered with sea salt. From the time the pan is flooded, it takes 10 weeks on average for a
salt pan to be ready for harvesting. Harvesting the salt involves using bulldozers to scoop up the
salt, which is then carted off to a terminal to be loaded on a ship. A single bulldozer requires 3
days to harvest each acre of salt and this facility has 2 of them. There is ample capacity of trucks
to transport salt from the pans to the terminal. Harvesting can occur any day during the week and
clearly the pan cannot be flooded during harvesting. Each acre yields 1000 cubic meters (m3) of
salt. After salt is harvested from a pan, it is flooded with sea water to begin the process again.
Assume (i) there is ample demand for salt, and (ii) ship capacity and the loading process is
sufficiently fast so that they do not constrain the process. How much salt can this facility produce
per day on average (in m3)?
Your initials: _________ Page 10 of 12

Q19 Potty Parity Laws were implemented in the U.S. because (choose the best
A) There was concern regarding the safety of potty trainers for children.
B) The U.S., by culture and convention, is not amenable to unisex public
C) The quality of the fixtures in womens rooms was not comparable to the
quality in mens rooms.
D) Under previous building codes womens restrooms were the same physical
size as mens restrooms but this did not provide sufficient capacity.
E) All of the above
F) None of the above.

Q21 Is it possible for two firms to have the same annual inventory turns and the
same gross-margin but different days-of-supply?
A) Yes, because days-of-supply measures how long the firm can satisfy demand
with its current inventory whereas inventory turns measures the frequency at
which inventory turns over.
B) Yes, inventory turns and gross margin are related but they are independent of
C) Yes, the firm with the higher days-of-supply will have the lower return on
invested capital.
D) No, if firms have the same gross-margin then they must have the same days-
E) No, if firms have the same inventory turns then they must have the same days-
F) None of the above.
Your initials: _________ Page 11 of 12

Q22 YourNurse (YN) Inc uses certified nurses to answer medical queries from
customers over the phone. When patients call into YN they are first asked to
provide their zipcode which then allows YN to route their call to the call center
nearest to the patient (they operate 10 across the country). Which single
suggestion in the following list (and explanation) is most likely to reduce the
average time callers wait before speaking with a nurse?
A) Run an advertising campaign to increase demand and to better utilize their
B) Train their nurses so that they spend more time answering the patients
C) Instead of using callers zipcodes, route calls to the call center with the fewest
callers to help prevent situations in which there are idle nurses at the same
time that there are callers on hold.
D) Play a recording of useful medical information while callers are on hold so as
to decrease their perception of how long they are waiting.
E) None of the above

Q24 Why is it prudent to avoid sending re-work through a bottleneck step in a

process? (Choose the best answer).
A) Sending rework through the bottleneck reduces the processes overall
B) Rework handled by the bottleneck leads to quality defects and higher warranty
C) Rework always has to be sent through a bottleneck process even though this is
D) Sending rework through the bottleneck starves the bottleneck.
E) Sending rework through the bottleneck decreases flow time through the
F) None of the above.
Your initials: _________ Page 12 of 12

Q25 A high volume paper manufacturer borrows $1M to purchase a new printing
machine. The annual debt payment is $150,000. The machine can make different
types of paper but the machine must be shut down for one day each time it
switches production to another type of paper. The manufacturer spends about 24
days per year due to produce changeovers. Dividing the annual debt payment over
those 24 days yields $6250 per day. Should this cost, $6250, be used as an input
to the EOQ model to determine optimal batch sizes for each type of paper?
Choose the best answer/explanation.
A) Yes, $6250 is incurred per day independent of the subsequent production
volume, so it is the setup cost in the EOQ model.
B) Yes, $6250 is incurred per day independent of the subsequent production
volume, so it is the holding cost in the EOQ model.
C) No, the square root of $6250 should be input into the EOQ model as the
setup cost.
D) No, $150,000 should be input into the EOQ model as the holding cost
because it is the opportunity cost of capital.
E) None of the above.