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Logistics Research Network 2021

18 October 2021

Trucks on road and businessman using tablet

Sustainability and resilience in disruptive times was the theme of the Logistics Research Network 2021 (LRN2021) Conference, hosted by Cardiff University and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport UK between 8-10 September 2021.

165 delegates attended the online conference from around the world, joining webinars and presentations on the challenges organisations face when making sustainable choices and overcoming disruption, such as COVID-19.

Last year, we welcomed academics and industry delegates to e-LRN2020, and delivered a highly innovative conference with cutting-edge outputs, despite the challenging circumstances. In 2021, we aimed to build on the success of last year’s conference with prestigious keynote speakers, several specialist streams, the iLEGO workshop, and a wide range of paper presentations in the context of resilient and sustainable supply chains, which together stimulated the advancement of knowledge in our discipline.

Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues Reader in Logistics and Operations Management

“LRN2021 contributed towards the modernisation of LRN by including highly prolific keynote speakers from industry and academia, and strong communications throughout the year to attract delegates from a wide range of latitudes. The conference focused on sustainable and resilient supply chains, a topical theme considering the pressures faced by industry due to climate change and COVID-19.”

The conference began on Wednesday 8th with 19 stream webinars led by academic experts on topics including the impact of COVID-19 on logistics and the supply chain, E-Commerce logistics, Circular Economy in food supply chains, and Logistics Decarbonisation.

The 5th iLEGO workshop on Industry 4.0 followed, hosted by Professor Maneesh Kumar and Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues. The workshop brought together practitioners from academia and industry to share their perspectives and experiences of Industry 4.0 on sustainable and resilient supply chains, particularly as a consequence of the pandemic. Professor Janet Godsell (Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University) gave a keynote presentation.

The 5th iLEGO workshop provided an excellent platform for academics and practitioners to debate and discuss how Business Models influenced by Industry 4.0 technologies aid in achieving sustainable and resilient supply chain practices. The presentations from six excellent speakers at iLEGO complemented the discussions during the LRN conference on the role of digital technologies in addressing sustainability issues.

Professor Maneesh Kumar Professor in Service Operations

The second day of the conference began with speakers from the Ocado Group, Christ Kent, Business Improvement Senior Specialist, and Tim Coughlin, Head of Analytics and Optimisation. Their presentation explored the ways in which customer demand and behaviour changed overnight in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and how they overcame these challenges.

Gwyneth Fries, Expert Senior Manager, Sustainability at Bain & Company gave a keynote address on measuring supplier emissions, explaining what Scope 3 emissions are and why they matter, how to measure Scope 3 emissions, and approaches to looking at supplier emissions management.

Zoom screen of 16 delegates
LRN2021 delegates

Following this, Professor Joseph Sarkis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Hanken School of Economics, and Professor Alan McKinnon of Kühne Logistics University spoke on climate change mitigation and adaptation. They discussed the difficulties of modelling the mitigation and adaptation relationship due to the uncertainty of timing and scale of climate impacts, and our proximity to crossing climatic and geophysical tipping points.

Closing the day, Jenni Edwards, Managing Director at ESC International used case studies to explore ‘Ethical procurement – building a sustainable and resilient supply chain. She concluded by asking “Can you afford NOT to know what is happening in your supply chain?”

LRN2021 provided an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest trends and challenges around supply chain and logistics by promoting communication between academic and industry members of LRN community. Special streams have received a great deal of attention from participants and new research has brought novel and innovative ideas for sustainable and resilient supply chains in disruptive times.

Dr Emrah Demir Reader in Management Science, The PARC Associate Professor of Manufacturing and Logistics, Deputy Head of Section (Learning & Teaching)

Supporting PhD students

The LRN2021 PhD workshop ended proceedings on Friday 10 September, with a record 56 participants registered.

Dr Irina Harris, Reader in Logistics and Operations Modelling at Cardiff Business School, together with Ed Sweeney, Professor of Logistics and Systems at Aston University, Birmingham, Dr Sarah Shaw, Doctor of Logistics and MBA Director at The University of Hull, and Dr Graeme Heron, Senior University Teacher in Operations Management and Continuous Improvement at the University of Sheffield, facilitated the workshop.

Aimed at doctoral students, the workshop allowed participants to get expert advice from the facilitators and share challenges and learnings with their peer network.

Professor Joseph Sarkis of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Hanken School of Economics said of the workshop: "“I’m truly impressed with the variety of topics discussed at this year’s LRN conference: climate change, behaviour, humanitarian efforts, policy & regulations to name but a few. We need to have more of these transdisciplinary events that bring together multiple communities to discuss these important themes”.

Professor Ed Sweeney, Chair of LRN, added: "The planning of this year's annual conference of the Logistics Research Network was informed by the three key pillars of the LRN strategy. First, it showcased excellence in terms of research quality with almost 100 papers presented across the various specialist streams. Second, LRN2021 facilitated collaboration between researchers from different institutions and countries with contributions from around the globe.

“Perhaps most importantly, collaboration between academics and business is something we saw more of in this LRN conference than we’ve ever done previously. Finally, this event is primarily about communication and providing the logistics research community with the platform to disseminate state-of-the-art findings across a range of logistics and supply chain domains. In this regard, LRN2021 was a resounding success and the team at Cardiff is to be commended for its excellent work in putting together a hugely successful event in challenging circumstances.”

The Logistics Research Network, part of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, is the UK's leading network for those involved in research and scholarship in supply chain logistics and allied fields.

The LRN 2021 Organising Committee included:
Emrah Demir (Co-Chair), Beverly Francis (Conference Officer), Allison Glandfield (CILT Events Manager), Irina Harris (Special Issue Guest Editor & PhD Workshop), Angharad Kearse (Communications Officer), Maneesh Kumar (iLEGO Chair), Mohamed M. Naim (Special Streams Chair), Lucy Hemmings (CILT Events Coordinator), Stephen Pettit (Book Publishing Special Stream), Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues (Conference Chair), Xiaobei Wang (Conference Programme Chair), Zara Watson (CILT Marketing Manager)

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