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ACTING NoW, an FNR project to identify distress in supply chains

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Published on Friday, 22 May 2020

The Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management has submitted a FNR research project “A Control Tower for the early IdeNtification of distress in loGistics NetWorks and essential supply chains”.

Abstract

A Control Tower for the early IdeNtification of distress in loGistics NetWorks and essential supply chains

Logistics is an essential activity in general and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and other restrictive measures (e.g. border controls) have severely slowed down the flow of goods and forced the European Commission to call on EU Member States to keep transport flows moving to deliver critical goods.

The project will deploy a “national control tower” to assess and monitor the status of the logistics networks and essential supply chains, so to try and take corrective measures aimed at preventing collapses in essential services and other economic activities.

Driven by LCL and LIST, Research Luxembourg reacted by providing in a matter of days a first weekly survey for transporters and logistics operators and is currently working on a second survey to collect data on the functioning of supply chains. The public agency INCERT hosts the surveys and provides basic visual analytics through a pre-existing dashboard that has been adapted to the need. To support decision-makers in selecting the right approach, LIST, LCL and INCERT will take advantage of the Digital Twin technology that Gartner ranks among the top 10 Strategic Technology Trends of the last three years.

In the six months covered by this project they plan to

  • adapt the two surveys following feedback from the user communities and the potential evolution of the crisis;
  • improve the data analytics and visualisation tools as much as possible;
  • start collecting requirements for a more sophisticated platform that should be able to automatically import data from external systems (e.g. ERPs), offer enhanced analytics and visualisation functionalities as well as rapid alerts to its users via a dedicated mobile app.
  • Finally, they will design, test and validate a prototype of the dashboard and the mobile app.

 

 

How does the project address the COVID-19 crisis?

According to Frost & Sullivan «The COVID-19 outbreak has shown the industry how delicate the supply chain has become [...] During this difficult time, it is essential for logistics companies to have an immediate focus on enabling end-to-end visibility, agility, process flexibility, and collaboration to support their customers in anticipating disruptions and mitigating the respective impacts».

A need emerges whereby stake holders and decision makers need to detect early signs of distress so as to try and take corrective measures aimed at preventing collapses in essential services and other economic activities. This need refers to the WHO’s research priority “social sciences in the outbreak response” in understanding how social and economic impacts need to be mitigated and ensuring sufficient supplies of food, medicines and other essentials. This is all the more important in our country where logistics is a key economic sector, many national actors are family-managed and/or low-tech companies and dependency on open borders for the correct functioning of logistic networks and supply chains is higher than average.

The project targets four user communities who have an interest to assess and regularly monitor the state of logistics networks and supply chains during the current crisis: The national Government, interested in a global picture on the on-going operations but also in a zoom into one or more specific supply chains; logistics providers interested in accessing a “bigger picture” of the situation instead of focusing only on their own mitigation strategies, which could be based on limited information and result in a zero-sum game; drivers interested in receiving notifications on the traffic conditions and situation at the delivery/pick-up location; law enforcement agencies such as Frontex, INTERPOL and others, interested in using and providing feedback on dashboard information as this may imply cross border information sharing.

It is a necessary though not sufficient condition to inject more resilience into the sector. This additional resilience will serve our country in the event of new COVID-19-related lockdowns and of currently unforeseen crises of a different nature.

Supply Chain Survey will map supply chains, assess their degree of globalisation, visibility and transparency, and ultimately gain insights into resilience and supply chain risk practices in Luxembourg. It will design and launch an online survey on supply chain resilience, conduct a preliminary analysis and provide recommendations for further development.

 

Let me know when I can fill the online survey