Smart Logistics Lab

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The Smart Logistics Lab is located at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands in the School of Industrial Engineering embedded in the OPAC (Operations, Planning, Accounting and Control) group. With its 40+ research staff, OPAC is one of the largest European research groups in the field of Logistics.[1]

What is Smart Logistics about?

Logistics is defined as efficient and cost-effective managerial decisions related to the design, planning and control of the supply chain processes. Smart Logistics does this in a smart way. Smart means that planning and scheduling, ICT infrastructure, people and governmental policy making need to be efficiently and effectively aligned. Smart Logistics equals 3P+I (i.e. Planning, People, Policy and Infrastructure), and is the synchronized interplay of these four key domains.

ICT infrastructure is an enabler for planning and scheduling via providing the right information resources at the right time and place. Nowadays, larger quantities along with more detailed and faster information are available. This allows for better planning and scheduling. But this is also a challenge as many planning and scheduling tools are not able to handle this amount and quality of information. One example is the limited use of advanced traffic information in the route planning tools. Some researchers and practitioners go further and claim that adequate advanced planning is not needed anymore as all the required information is available in real- time. They argue that it is sufficient to have fast reaction or repair strategies. These fast repair strategies assume full flexibility in real-time, which is usually only true in practice to a limited extent. The role of people is important, as they need to interpret and implement the outcomes of the planning and scheduling tools. People need to be adequately trained to thoroughly understand and manage properly the complex logistical processes. Last, but not least, governmental policies have a critical impact on the success or failure of logistical activities. Note that in many cases, policy making has been counterproductive to rather than strengthened Smart Logistics. Since policy has a fundamental impact on the costs of the logistics activities of companies, the private sector is directly affected.

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