How efficient logistics makes major contributions to the health, welfare and comfort of 21st century life was a major theme discussed at the 14th annual Logistics Research Network (LRN) Conference held at the University of Cardiff in September. The three day event featured some 120 papers from 30 countries and was organised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK (CILT) and sponsored in 2009 by the Department for Transport’s Freight Best Practice and managed by AECOM, and the publishers Taylor & Francis Group.
The conference theme ‘Volatile and Fragile Supply Chains’ reflected the need for the supply chain to react and improve in the face of difficult economic conditions and to ensure care for the environment, with a particular concern for the impact of transport operations on climate change.
The practical application of supply chain research and its role in improving management and saving costs, was well demonstrated by a paper describing advances in the blood transfusion supply chain. Platelets, the constituent of blood that aids coagulation, has a shelf life of five days and a unit cost of £250. Wastage due to expiry is about 220,000 units per year at a cost of £5 million. However, changes to the supply chain reduced product lead time from over 24 hours down to just 7.5 hours – a reduction of over 60 per cent and increasing platelet life by 10 per cent and an important saving for the NHS.
The benefits to the environment of online shopping and its relative contribution to reducing vehicle emissions was the subject of comparative research. The work concluded that home deliveries are, generally, less polluting than personal shopping trips. The paper also demonstrated means of further increasing efficiency and reducing emissions by improving delivery windows, avoiding the need for second journeys, and the availability of local collection points.
CILT President Graeme McFaull said: ‘The Institute seeks to forge partnerships between academics and practitioners and facilitate a dialogue that will ultimately drive continuous improvement and innovation. I know that we all strive to grasp and deliver ‘best practice’ – this is becoming a given in today’s climate. But we should also take every opportunity to think about ‘next practice’ and that is where academic research has a vital role to play’.
A number of awards were presented at the event.
The Undergraduate Dissertation of the Year Award went to Nabil Ahmed, University of Manchester Business School, for Infrastructional limitations and the impact of terrorism on supply chain risk management in Pakistan.
The Masters Dissertation of the Year Award went to Verena Flitsch, University of Plymouth, for Collaboration in the German food and beverage industry – extended supplier networks.
The PhD Award, the James Cooper Memorial Cup, went to Dr Yingli Wang, University of Cardiff Business School for Electronic market places for tailored logistics.
The Freight Best Practice Student Award went to Dean Bernard of Birmingham City University for his essay The Carbon Challenge – what measures should the logistics industry be taking to reduce its carbon footprint.
The International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications (IJoL) is the journal of the LRN. The IJoL award for best paper in 2008 went to J.Lynch, Harrow Business School, and Linda Whicker, Nottingham University Business School, for their paper Do logistics and marketing understand each other? An empirical investigation of the interface activities between logistics and marketing.
The LRN conference in 2010 will be held at the University of Leeds.