Industry 4.0 and digital technology are rapidly transforming logistics and supply chains. Specialising in disruptive technologies and data analytics, the Centre for Intelligent Supply Chains brings industry and academia together to enable organisations to improve strategic decision-making through data-driven competitiveness, growth and efficiency.
The research centre combines leading-edge academic expertise with practical relevance to benefit organisations through contract research, consultancy projects, and advanced training and development services. Our research is published in top-ranked scientific journals and developed in partnership with industry to solve real-world business challenges.
As a part of the School of Economics, Finance and Law at ARU, we offer a variety of taught programmes including MSc Supply Chain and Logistics (with placement), degree apprenticeships, executive short courses, and customised training programmes. Our industrial partners include Felixstowe Port (UK), Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Simarco Logistics, Wincanton Logistics and Oracle.
Our core areas of expertise are machine learning, data mining, sustainability and circular economy, multicriteria decision-making, supply chain modelling and simulation, fuzzy sets and theory and process management. We have industry expertise across the healthcare, automotive, and transportation sectors.
Knowledge transfer is at the core of the Centre’s development - even the launch of this Centre was funded by Innovate UK and Hexcel Composites Ltd. We have successfully delivered several Knowledge Transfer Partnerships funded through Innovate UK and ERDF, and working in collaboration with NHS, Felixstowe Port (UK), Simarco, Hexcel Composites Ltd, Essex County Council, and Chelgate Ltd.
The leading research and consultancy advice provided by us creates significant impact for various stakeholders. We are working with Felixstowe Port to improve the utilisation of rail transport from the port to inland destinations. By implementing a Big Data-driven optimisation tool, we are able to improve forecasting accuracy at container level by 70%, which leads to significantly improved port operational productivity and economic and environmental efficiency.
Our collaboration with Hexcel Composites Ltd developed more integrated processes including key supply chain-wide policies, procedures and service level agreements for use across 24 manufacturing plants in nine different countries. This resulted in better information flow, communication and process efficiency. A scalable and adaptable end-to-end supply chain management framework was created, which was flexible for future growth.
The collaborative forecasting led to significantly more accurate forecasts, enabling more focus, alignment and synchronisation between demand and supply. The availability of 24/7 powerful, real time access to key performance data and metrics with drill-down capability for better visibility and decision-making is used by 250 key personnel across the business – a first for Hexcel. Active Service Management was implemented, which increased the on-time despatch by 13%, which led to a speedier realisation of £13m revenue.
Since 2016, alongside colleagues from the University of Liverpool, we have had a research and innovation relationship with Hutchison Ports, Felixstowe. The collaboration has been focused on integrating leading-edge technology into their smart network, operations and business processes, thereby supporting the port’s sustainable growth.
Key elements of the relationship are projects aimed to:
By stimulating trade and technological growth across the region, these projects will help strengthen the Freeport status awarded to Felixstowe and Harwich, ultimately enhancing competitiveness against continental operators. Additionally, increased utilisation of technology and rail transport will effectively tackle challenges of port and traffic congestion, amongst the associated positive environmental impact. Lastly, it will create conditions for a more competitive economy, supporting higher employment and delivering smart growth through an effective investment into a sustainable future.
Supply chain sustainability offers a holistic view of supply chain operations and processes that have continuous accountability for risk and negative impacts on the environmental, social, economic and legal aspects of a supply chain's components.
The application of Industry 4. 0 facilitates digitalisation and improvements in logistics and supply chains, mitigating supply chain risks, enhancing operation efficiency and effectiveness, enhancing supply chain resilience and responsiveness, maintaining market share and entering new markets.
Big Bata analytics is an all-encompassing term for techniques to analyse Big Data characterised by high volume, velocity, variety and veracity. Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) for data analysis, based on the idea that systems automatically learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. Big data analytics and predictive analysis using machine learning can improve supply chain performance by improving visibility, resilience, responsiveness, and robustness.
Operational research (OR) uses advanced analytical methods and scientific approach to determine the best solution to the problem and help make better decisions.
Process improvement includes being able to use key data more thoroughly by employing business intelligence tools, and developing integrated processes to improve performance by reducing lead time and increasing velocity. The centre has strong expertise and interest in automobile and aerospace products manufacturing.
Consultancy project with Chelgate Ltd. London, developing a suite to online education in finance and data analytics, 2017-2019. Project funded: £45,000. Project lead: Dr Ying Xie. Academic participants: Tom Stacey, Dr Handy Tan and Dr Larisa Yarovaya.
Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Hexcel Composites Ltd, developing supply chain policy and procedures, creating visibility of supply chain performance and metrics and improving service performance, 2015-2018. Project funded: £180,000. Academic supervisors: Dr Helen Benton and Dr Swetketu Patnaik.
Low-Carbon KEEP project with Cost Centre Services Ltd, funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), 2014-2015. Project funded: £34,116.67. Academic supervisor:Dr Ying Xie.
Project Management Course for Russian Railways, funded by Russian Railways. 2013. Developer: Dr Helen Benton.
Consultancy project with Shanghai DingXun Industrial Group Ltd. P.R.Chna, providing consultancy advice on the sustainable development of real estate in China, 2011-2012. Project funded: £60,000. Principal Investigator: Dr Ying Xie.
|Training programme for HuNan University of Finance and Economics, P. R. China (innovative teaching pedagogies and research development)||State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, China||£18,000||2019|
|Training programme for WuHan Polytechnic University, P. R. China (innovative teaching pedagogies)||WuHan Polytechnic University||£6,000||2018|
|Training programme for Vice Chancellors from 21 Chinese universities (entrepreneurship)||Ministry of Education of P. R. China||£2,000||2017|
|ACCA short course for TaiHu University, China||TaiHu University, China||circa £65,000 per year||Ongoing|
|International Business short course for Guangdong University of Science and Technology, China||Guangdong University of Science and Technology||£8,000 per year||Ongoing|
|Education training programme for Business Academy Southwest, Denmark||Business Academy Southwest, Denmark||£3,500 per year||2016|
In light of the current remote working circumstances, one of the first areas in which the Centre has been active is establishing a webinar series exploring impacts of COVID-19 on supply chain activities and performances.
On 12 March 2021, we held a free webinar in partnership with Cranfield University. Four academic researchers and industrial experts discussed how to shape business transformations and drive digital transformations in supply chains in order to achieve the target of zero net carbon emissions in the UK aviation industry by 2050.