Our research is focused on the current challenges of business practice. We cooperate with leading companies and international research institutions in the USA, Australia, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe to ensure that our research results are always up to date. In our field of expertise in logistics and corporate management we concentrate on the following research topics:
Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Nowadays, companies are facing ever more rapidly changing economic conditions: The current competitive environment is characterized by globally operating companies, shortening of product life cycles, higher demands for individualized products, closer interconnectedness of companies as well as new information technologies. This dynamic change forces individual companies no longer acting alone but facing competition by bundling sources in supply chains. A supply chain is a network of integrated organizations, whereof each organization is involved in the value-adding processes and activities of the product or service at different stages, from raw material extraction to the end customer. Supply chain management aims to increase the competitiveness of all supply chain partners by increasing the overall supply chain efficiency. While logistics solely focuses on the flow of materials and information, supply chain management also includes financial flows among the supply chain.
Next to strategies, concepts and methods of supply chain management, our research focuses on the development of concepts to improve the market situation as well as competitiveness for companies. Furthermore, our research encompasses contemporary sustainability concepts and initiatives in supply chain management.
Supply Chain Risk Management
Particularly driven by the ongoing globalization and the lean supply chain approach, companies are facing increasing supply chain risks. A supply chain risk is a potential damage evaluated based on its probability of occurrence. The occurrence affects more than one company in the supply chain. Causes of supply chain risks are allocated within a company, in its supply chain or in its environment.
Independently from its original source, risks of supply chain partners are perceived as supply or demand risks by other companies in the supply chain. Thus, the occurrence of a risk at one company in the value chain will trigger consequential damages for its partners. This effect is known as "vulnerability" of supply chains. Empirical studies of the institute confirm supply chain risks being the most dangerous risks for companies.
Proactively dealing with risks from the own supply chain and its environment is gaining in importance for companies regardless of their size or industry. A survey conducted by our institute in Q4/2005 shows that the share of firms ascribing high importance to SCRM has increased dramatically within five years. This trend will also continue within the upcoming years. Supply chain risk management acts as one brick of supply chain management, which includes all strategies & measures, knowledge, institutions, processes as well as technologies for reducing technical, personnel and organizational risks Hence, the following three generic strategies can be applied for dealing with supply chain risks:
- Avoidance of risks by proactively eradicating its causes
- Mitigation of risks to third parties, e.g. to insurances or outsourcing risks
- Controlling of risk-related damages by defining emergency measures
Methodological and operational support for supply chain risk management, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, may be realized by self-contained software tools.
Currently, our institute is conducting several supply chain risk-related projects in cooperation with industrial partners. Furthermore, we are planning to launch a workgroup. Interested companies are very welcome to contact us at any time.
Technology and Process Innovations in Logistics
In the course of world-wide globalization, companies have been trying to realize cost benefits by internationalizing their supply chains, i.e. by outsourcing the production of labour-intensive parts to low-wage countries and solely assembling these parts in their home factories. As a result of this development, logistics has been one of the emerging industrial sectors over the past decades.
Since the expected economic growth and the anticipated future volumes will most likely exceeded existing infrastructure capacities, logisticians search for effective measures to reduce the use of capacity and reach a higher degree of efficiency. The multitude of human interaction and decision making in logistics offers the possibility to automate processes, reduce throughput times and disburden the logistics companies. Innovations in technology as well as in processes can ensure a company's business competitiveness in the long term. Therefore, our research group develops technology-based and process-oriented concepts to enhance logistic performance and to enable logisticians to survive in global competition.
Supply Chain Security
Supply Chain Security (SCS) or Supply Chain Security Management (SCSM), respectively, embraces any organizational, personnel and technological supply chain management activity to ensure the security of the supply chain. This topic is deeply influenced by the international (US) security politics that mainly focuses on the compliance with security rules and laws in the context of counterterrorism. The research area of the so called “anti-terror compliance” deals with the efficient implementation of security standards, laws, rules, agreements and certifications (ISO28000, C-TPAT, SAFE Port Act, ISPS Code, EU-Regulation 17, AEO etc.).
The second focus of the research area is the identification and elimination of security gaps and security-related weak points within a supply chain to ensure supply chain integrity. This includes secure cargo as well as a secure transport of goods. The main emphasis in this area is on finding efficient ways for effective anti-piracy actions, especially in the Straits of Malacca and the African coastal regions (e.g. the Gulf of Aden).
Complexity and Variety Management
This research field can be divided into two main building blocks: (1) strategies, approaches, and instruments of complexity management in logistics, and (2) modularization strategies for complexity reduction. Strategies, Approaches, and Instruments of Complexity Management in Logistics
Supply chains and logistics are facing a steadily growing complexity. This increased complexity is not only due to company-specific, but also to industry-wide factors. Inefficient organizational structures and poor standardization are factors, internal to the company, that can drive supply chain and logistics complexity to increase. Globalization, short product lifecycles, higher customer requirements, and stronger orientation on outsourcing because of an intensive concentration on core competencies are examples of industry-wide factors that contribute to the increased complexity in supply chain and logistics.
Complexity can have many detrimental effects on supply chain and logistics operations. In particular, complexity can considerably slow down logistics processes and negatively affects the efficiency of the supply chain network. Because of this, a complexity management approach, taking the whole logistics network into account, gains increasingly in importance. So far, however, complexity management more often concentrated on the single company, while neglecting the broader-supply chain-perspective.
The research focus in this building block is to elaborate complexity management concepts that are applicable to the logistics and supply chain network. The fundamental objective is to develop integrative tools, methods, and techniques that combine the product and process views an consider, at the same time, the whole value adding system.
Applied Management Methods
Managing the interlink of applied management methods and corporate success is a research objective for both, research and practice. Business consultancies often quote a positive influence of management methods on company productivity. Recent studies show that the difficult economic situation is prompting managers to promote and apply modern management methods to make their companies more cost efficient, which is still an important success criterion.
Management methods and techniques result from the interaction of practice and management research. The Institute of Business Logistics and General Management is conducting research since various years in the areas of applied management methods, such as project management, product development and human resource development in logistics or in benchmarking.