After reflecting upon my time during the Discovering Mathematics, I have realised that my opinions on mathematics really have changed. The Discovering Mathematics module has really opened my eyes, to how much fun you can have with maths.
One example of this was when we looked at food supply and logistics in a lecture. We looked at food miles, which is the distance which food is transported from its place of production, to the consumer, e.g. a farm to a supermarket (Oxford Dictionary, 2017). Furthermore, we also looked into the factors which affect the transportation of food. For example; mass, the distribution of mass, the size of the product, its strength, temperature requirements and the products shelf life. We then went onto look at demand planning, and put what we have just learnt about food production and consumption, into practice to demonstrate how these areas of fundamental mathematics are used on a daily basis, all around the world.
Demand planning is;
“a multi-step operational supply chain management (SCM) process used to create reliable forecasts. Effective demand planning can guide users to improve the accuracy of revenue forecasts, align inventory levels with peaks and troughs in demand, and enhance profitability for a given channel or product” (Rouse, 2010).
As also stated by Rouse (2010), successful demand planning includes various steps including; looking at historical sales data, creating statistical forecasts, looking at what the customers want and working with the customers, and many more.
Taking these rules into consideration, and applying what we had just learnt about logistics and food supply, we then split into pairs and worked on our business.
The rules of the game include;
As a team, we had 5000 euros to spendand had to look at what products would generate the most profit for each quarter. For example, between April and May, it would be stupid of us to put any money into the likes of Christmas selection boxes or luxury hampers as these would not generate any sort of profit. It would be clever however, to put your money into products such as milk, bread and beans, as these are staples of most people’s diet. Therefore, for each time period (April-June, July-August, October-December and January-March) we had to think about what products would sell the best and generate us the most profit.
We thought we were doing well as a team, however it wasn’t until each group revealed their overall profit, that we realised just how terrible we had done. We achieved an income of approximately £45,000, and although we were not the worst, one group had made over £200,000. It then came to our understanding that we had done it wrong. It appears we had read the rules wrong, as we thought each group could only spend the 5000 euros every time, whereas you could spend as much of your income as you wish. Also, the group who made the most profit had spent near enough all of their money on beans, as this was the product which had the highest profit margin. Therefore, if we were to complete this Apprentice style task again, we said that something which we would take into consideration, is that;
- Make sure we read the rules correctly and;
- Check which product has the highest profit margin, and put all of our money into that.
Overall, the task was great fun and I believe that this would be a really fun and enjoyable task which children would love, and therefore, this is something which I hope to take forward into my future profession as a teacher.
Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2017). food mile | Definition of food mile in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/food_mile [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].
Rouse, M. (2010). What is demand planning? – Definition from WhatIs.com. [online] SearchERP. Available at: http://searcherp.techtarget.com/definition/demand-planning [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].