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Prof. René de Koster
Prof. René de Koster

A research paper on workforce scheduling with order-picking assignments in distribution facilities won a best paper award from the INFORMS Transportation Science and Logistics (TSL) Society in the field of facility logistics. The paper is co-written by Professor René de Koster from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).  

The annual TSL Best Paper Award goes to an outstanding paper in the field of transportation science and logistics. To win the recognition and the US$800 prize money, a paper must present innovative approaches for solving complex problems in transportation or logistics, with an emphasis on operations research and quantitative methods. 

The award-winning paper Workforce scheduling with order-picking assignments in distribution facilities was written by Prof. René de Koster (RSM), Dr Arpan Rijal (University of Groningen), Dr Marco Bijvank (Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary), and Prof. Asvin Goel (Kühne Logistics University). 

Alternative method

The paper results from an NWO project the researchers carried out in close collaboration with a large grocery retailer. They were able to develop an alternative method to assign order pickers to batches of store orders in the retailer’s warehouses. The method takes into account more flexible break times and additional (partially overlapping) daily shifts. This method allows the retailer to increase the minimum compensated duration for flex workers from six hours to seven or eight hours, while still reducing the average labour cost with up to 5 per cent, when a 15-minute flexibility is implemented in the scheduling of break times. This helps to retain flex workers, which is particularly important in this time of labour scarcity.

RSM’s Prof. René de Koster also won the TSL Best Paper Award in 2020, along with co-writers Dr Jelmer Pier van der Gaast (Fudan University School of Management), Prof. Ivo J. B. F. Adan (Einderhoven University of Technology), and Dr Jacques A.C. Resing (Eindhoven University of Technology). Their research paper revealed a capacity analysis of sequential zone picking systems. 


More information

The INFORMS Transportation Science and Logistics (TSL) Society provides INFORMS members and friends with a sustained, specialised focus on all topics of transportation science and logistics, including current and potential problems and contributions to their solution, and supports efforts to extend, unify, and integrate related branches of knowledge and practice. It encourages the education of students and the continuing education of practitioners. The Society was formed in 2004 with the merger of the Transportation Science and Logistics Sections. The Society is the editorial home of one of INFORMS’ flagship journals, Transportation Science. The Society includes five special interest groups: Air Transportation, Freight Transportation and Logistics, Urban Transportation Planning and Modeling, Facility Logistics, and Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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Rene de Koster