Dozens of the world’s leading experts and researchers in the field of logistics came to the University of Huddersfield for a three-day conference that featured a packed programme of lectures and discussions on topics such as environmental sustainability, the reduction of food waste and the better distribution of vital medical supplies.
The event was the Logistics Research Network Annual Conference, under the aegis of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. The 1999 conference took place at the University of Huddersfield, which is a leading centre for research and teaching in logistics and transport. But on its return in 2014, it was held in the £17 million Business School, opened four years ago. Delegates were highly impressed by its facilities.
The Conference was organised by Dr Nick Hubbard, who is Head of Transport, Logistics and Tourism at the University’s Business School. It attracted more than 130 delegates from a wide spread of countries that included Thailand, Sweden, South Africa, Namibia, Dubai and Poland. There were 97 speakers, who gave papers or presented keynote addresses. Among them were five former University of Huddersfield students or doctoral researchers, and several members of Business School staff made special contributions.
After delegates had been welcomed by Dr Hubbard and Professor Chris Cowton, Dean of the Business School, the first plenary speaker was Andrew Hodgkins, who is Vice President for Consumer and Life Sciences for the DHL Supply Chain. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield. His talk was entitled “matching the needs of industry with academia”.
This was an important dimension to the conference, said Professor Colin Bamford, who – as Associate Dean of the Business School – had negotiated for the prestigious event to return to Huddersfield.
“One of the main themes that emerged is the relevance of a lot of logistics research and its value to industry. Our challenge is to ensure that people who are out there on the ground realise how much good work going on,” he added.
Among the other plenary speakers were Mick Wright and Shaun Day, who both had major logistics roles at the London Olympics and now face similar challenges with the Rugby World Cup, to be held in England in 2015.
In the final keynote address, Andrew Brown, who is Executive Manager for the UNICEF initiative named People that Deliver, spoke about “health supply chains in low income settings”.
The conference had 30 separate sessions, in each of which several researchers presented papers on a wide range of subjects. Issues of sustainability proved to be central to many of the topics. One of the final sessions was named Green Logistics and Sustainability. It included papers on low carbon technology for increasing the efficiency of heavy goods fleets; plus methods for reducing food waste and alleviating food poverty among the urban poor.
The organiser of the event, Dr Nick Hubbard, said: “The conference provided a fascinating insight into logistics research being undertaken globally. The contribution of the University of Huddersfield to this research is well-recognised and the event was a great success.”