Regardless of what field you work in – health, production, commerce, communications, transport or science – the whole operation hangs together with the help of logistics and supply chains. These can, like everything else in life, work more or less effectively. They can also take different aspects into consideration, and depending on how the supply chains are customised they are able to yield varying sorts of benefits.
Take transport for example: every day a seemingly endless number of shipments are made throughout Sweden and internationally. Everyone benefits from these being as quick and seamless as possible – but at the same time, the transport sector produces harmful emissions that need to be reduced.
“Today, an approximate 23 percent of all trucks operating on Swedish roads are empty of cargo. We are transporting empty space that could be filled through better planning. If we could fill just a few extra percent of that unused space that would mean fewer trucks in total, and every reduction like that is an important step,” says Vendela Santén.
Important piece of the puzzle for sustainable transport
Vendela Santén and Sara Rogers make quite the dynamic duo at the Chalmers department of Technology Management and Economics. The started as PhD students on the same day in 2009, they have been part of several joint research projects and are now en route to finishing their PhD’s within a few weeks from each other. Both of them have, in slightly different capacities, focused on fill rate in their research. This subject will be the focus of their episodes in the mooc Supply Chain Management.
“Fill rate is an important piece of the puzzle in trying to reach a sustainable transport sector. It deals with utilising space in trucks – in every crate and in every box – as effectively as possible. A vital factor in doing this is transport organisation, where uneven flows and variations in volume on a daily or weekly basis makes it challenging for companies to reach a high fill rate,” says Vendela Santén.
“We have gathered our data by analysing the entire flow chain of a number of companies– they are not mentioned by name in the mooc, but the examples invoked all relate back to real businesses,” says Sara Rogers.
Both Vendela Santén and Sara Rogers regard the moocs as a good way for their research to reach more people. Since the subject of logistics applies to a majority of all lines of business, the target audience is large and varied.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the reception of the moocs is going to be like. Me and Vendela have worked hard to commodify the essence of what we do to a short format that can speak to many. We hope the participants will really get to put their minds to it during the course – and that their engagement can create a ripple effect,” says Sara Rogers.
Tailored to a global audience
Senior lecturers Per Olof Arnäs and Ola Hultkrantz from the department of Technology Management and Economics are helming the Chalmers moocs on Supply Chain Management and Logistics. They have invited and cooperated with a number of scientists and experts in the field of logistics, to make sure to capture the full width of the subject.
“The first mooc operates as a ‘career booster’ for professionals who want to expand their understanding of logistics in their field. It is a 101-course tailored to a global audience. The participants will come away with tools needed to design logistic systems,” says Per Olov Arnäs.
He also points out that the moocs will be used as educational resources at Chalmers.
“We’ll recommend taking them to incoming masters students joining us from all across the globe to study logistics. They will have the opportunity to complete the moocs during the summer before the start of term. Additionally, the material produced – film clips for example – will be used to enhance our on-campus courses,” says Per olof Arnäs.
A mooc (Massive Open Online Course) is a course offered via an online platform in the form of recorded lectures, course texts and assignments and quizzes for the participants to complete during the run of the course. It’s open to anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet and access to the internet. Supply Chain Management and Logistics
is divided into two parts: System Design starting November 14tht 2016 and Master Control starting January 2017.
Text: Carolina Svensson
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist