My research agenda for the chair in Freight Transport and Logistics is focused on problems that have significant value for decisions makers, both companies and government. Of particular interest is the creation of novel, innovative application areas and insights, combining both scientific rigor and managerial relevance. The research approach mainly relies on quantitative modeling and analysis, using different Operations Research techniques. For a complete and detailed description of the research plans in this chair, refer to my inaugural lecture (download here).
Freight Transport and Logistics encompasses managerial decisions regarding the design, operations and control of the distribution chain processes in an efficient and cost effective way. In this Professor Research description, we focus on freight transport and logistics, considering important operational, tactical and strategic distribution processes in the supply chain. Transportation demand is growing and expected to continue growing. The last-mile logistics and the related logistics is situated more and more in growing urban areas, due to the increasing urban population growth. Both the internal costs (i.e. operational costs) and the external costs (i.e. congestion, pollution, noise, etc.), are key logistics drivers, but the share of external costs is becoming increasingly important. Finally, the last-mile is becoming (over)congested and, additionally, calls for decarbonisation to reduce pollution. Following these recent developments, gives an interesting snapshot of the logistics‘ future challenges.
The key focus of the proposed research area on Freight Transport and Logistics is on the ability to better represent real-life environments. Rather than focusing on idealized problems, we focus on real-life variants of the different problems, in the past considered too hard to handle. The family of these extended problems is referred to as Rich Freight Transport and Logistics Problems. Clearly, this focus on real-life environments has also direct potential for many industrial applications and tools. This focus on Rich Freight Transport and Logistics Problems is important since the world is time-dependent and stochastic and does not fit into a deterministic and static straitjacket. Moreover, any action build on these unrealistic assumptions is bound to be sub-optimal once realized. Due to the real-life complexities, coping with these time-dependent and stochastic environments is a critical and difficult problem, both in an offline and in an online setting. Offline means the generation of schedules beforehand (e.g. before the working day); Online refers to the actual realization of the schedule (e.g. during the working day).