ArticlePDF Available

Heading into "The New Normal": Potential development paths of international logistics networks in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic; In: Internationales Verkehrswesen, 72(3), pp. 31-35

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The Coronavirus crisis is putting international logistics networks to the test and it is already clear that the crisis is relentlessly exposing problems that international logistics networks must change as a result of the crisis. This article aims to reveal future developments in international logistics networks and discuss potential development paths. On the basis of a structured discussion with 23 logistics managers and a follow-up survey among them, current challenges and possible solutions were identified and theses on potential developments of international logistics networks were evaluated. This revealed that digitaliza-tion and the automation of processes have top priority for efficient risk and volatility management. In addition, there are tendencies toward more localized, agile logistics networks, which, with the aim of greater resilience, may also generate higher costs than those seen before the crisis.
Content may be subject to copyright.
International Transportation | Collection 2020 9
Heading into
“The New Normal”
Potential development paths of international logistics
networks in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic
Coronavirus, Covid-19, International logistics networks, Risk, Volatility, Focus group
The Coronavirus crisis is putting international logistics networks to the test and it is already clear that the
crisis is relentlessly exposing problems that international logistics networks must change as a result of
the crisis. This article aims to reveal future developments in international logistics networks and discuss
potential development paths. On the basis of a structured discussion with 23 logistics managers and a
follow-up survey among them, current challenges and possible solutions were identified and theses on
potential developments of international logistics networks were evaluated. This revealed that digitaliza-
tion and the automation of processes have top priority for ecient risk and volatility management. In
addition, there are tendencies toward more localized, agile logistics networks, which, with the aim of
greater resilience, may also generate higher costs than those seen before the crisis.
Frank Straube, Benjamin Nitsche
The logistics world is changing.
Most manufacturing companies
have faced serious disruptions in
their logistics networks over
recent months and, even if most companies
are back in operation, constantly changing
dynamics and extreme volatility are “The
New Normal.” What, at the beginning of
2020, appeared to be a regional problem
aecting the supply side of most companies
that were sourcing from China is now a
global pandemic and almost every company
is feeling the eects of this crisis in some
way. Although most industries are being
negatively aected, some will benefit from
the situation. On the one hand, old and
aging business models are in jeopardy; on
the other hand, the crisis also provides huge
opportunities for new ideas and business
models.
However you frame it, change is inevita-
ble in most industries, and logistics net-
works are about to change accordingly.
However, how they will change is highly
uncertain. The only thing that is clear is that
the crisis is also acting like a burning glass
for logistics networks. Inecient processes
are being clearly revealed, as are networks
that have been overoptimized to minimize
costs, and now problems that were already
Photo: Dimitri Houtteman/Unsplash
Covid-19  STRATEGIES
STRATEGIES Covid-19
International Transportation | Collection 202010
known in many places before the crisis, but
had not been clearly addressed, are more
likely to become apparent. Even if the crisis
can be overcome quickly, it is already clear
that, for many companies, it has become an
important trigger for changes in logistics,
though most are still unsure how to react.
To contribute to this discussion, the
Competence Center for International
Logistics Networks, funded by the Kuehne
Foundation, at the Chair of Logistics at the
Berlin University of Technology conducted
an initial focus group workshop with indus-
try experts at the end of May 2020. Further
discussions are ongoing. The focus group
consisted of logistics managers from multi-
ple manufacturing industries (automotive,
consumer goods, electronics, and others) as
well as logistics service providers. Partici-
pants had an average professional working
experience in logistics of 16 years and the
majority held senior management positions
in logistics (department manager or higher).
To initiate structured discussions, each par-
ticipant was asked to present the current
challenges the international logistics net-
work of his or her company is dealing with
and how they are seeking to address those
challenges in the short and long term. Based
on this input, the authors of this articles
synthesized the challenges and strategies
presented using the logistics design areas
strategy, network, processes, technology,
and people to outline the status quo. In
addition, to contribute to the discussion on
future development paths of logistics net-
works after the crisis, the authors synthe-
sized 20 theses on potential developments
within the aforementioned logistics design
areas based on the focus group discussion.
Subsequently, those theses were assessed by
the same group of experts through a post-
workshop questionnaire. The status quo of
challenges and strategies, as well as first
indications on future development paths of
international logistics networks, are out-
lined in the following discussion.
Challenges and consequences for
international logistics networks
As stated previously, companies’ logistics
networks are challenged by the crisis across
multiple phases, including the strategy, net-
work, process, technology, and people lev-
els. Figure 1 summarizes the challenges
identified through the focus group discus-
sions. From a strategic point of view, logis-
tics managers feel a need for change on
various levels. Current sourcing strategies,
as well as past developments toward cost-
optimized logistics networks, are currently
being discussed more critically than ever
before. However, the current uncertainty
about future developments is a major hin-
drance to managers, which is why there is a
danger that they will focus on firefighting to
tackle acute sub-problems to ensure secu-
rity of supply and will postpone strategically
important decisions. There is a risk that
even long-planned strategic initiatives and
investments may be withdrawn in the
course of massive cost-saving initiatives.
On a network-level, experts reported
that disruptions and high volatility have to
be considered as “The New Normal” and
current networks are, in general, unable to
meet the flexibility requirements of such a
crisis. To react promptly, real-time transpar-
ency on locations of goods, available capaci-
ties, and so on, throughout the entire logis-
tics network, are necessary, but often cannot
be ensured. This problem existed long
before the Coronavirus crisis, but has now
becomes more prominent. In addition, the
global transport market is prone to a new
type of volatility. Air freight is experiencing
strong demand but, owing to limited (pas-
senger) flights, this theoretical demand can-
not be covered, and the total freight volume
is much lower compared with last year. At
the same time, sea freight volumes have
decreased and Europe’s road transportation
market is expecting a reduction of at least
4.8 % and, in a worst-case scenario, up to
17 % [1].
On a process level, restructuring of oper-
ational, labor-intense processes to comply
with hygiene standards was one of the major
priorities at the beginning of the crisis; most
Globalization and sourcing strategies (low-cost countries) have tobe reconsidered
Danger of withdrawal of long-term logistics initiatives (e.g. sustainability and CSR initiatives)
Restructuring of some business model needed (some are more prone to crises than others)
High uncertainty on future developments dampens the ability to make strategic decisions timely
Logistics networks not able to meet flexibility requirements of crisis (e.g. due to off shoring)
Network disruptions and volatility are “The New Normal”
Real-time data transparency would be necessary but is not available (e.g. locations, available capacities)
Increasing transport lead times globally and decreased supply from hot zone countries (e.g. Italy, Spain, China)
Demand peak in air freight but limited capacities (due to limited passenger flights)
Demand increase for rail related transport between China and Europe possible
Demand decrease for traditional transport modes (road and sea freight)
E-commerce structures are not built for current boombut delivery has to be secured
Increased inventory stocks lead to the risk of a warehouse collapses
Strategy
Labor-intensive processes often take longer and must be reconsidered due to hygiene standards
Process errors become more obvious (need for process standardization and automation)
Collapse in demand leads to low capacity utilization for most manufacturers
Demand increase in certain industries cannot be covered by current processes
Predictive systems reach their limits (demand planning, ETA predictions etc.)
IT-infrastructure (national, company-level and network-level) not build for new requirements (i.e. boom in home office)
Digitalization on all phases become inevitable
Challenges & Consequences
Staff shortage in some industries (e.g. stationary and online retail) but excess staff in most industries
Protection of employees from getting infected
Fear of loss of employment can inhibit performance of employees
Network
Process
Tech-
nology
People
Figure 1: Corona-
related challenges
and consequences
for international
logistics networks
Covid-19  STRATEGIES
International Transportation | Collection 2020 11
companies adapted to the situation quickly,
although a reduction in process eciency
has been reported. Nevertheless, especially
in reacting as quickly as possible to con-
stantly changing network requirements, the
dependence on people’s actions quickly
became obvious. In order to increase the
speed of reaction, reduce dependency on
people, and thus be able to establish secu-
rity of supply more quickly, participants
often stressed the need for process automa-
tion as one of the core future challenges.
From a technological point of view, the
crisis stressed once again that there is an
urgent need for digitalization of logistics
networks. This digital transformation has
often been identified as one of the major
challenges for future logistics managers
[2,3], but the core problems that occur on
the pathway of digitalization seem to remain
the same in the wake of the crisis. IT infra-
structure within companies, and also across
companies on an international level, has
reached its limits. However, even predictive
algorithms that were previously considered
intelligent must be adapted to match the
new environmental conditions in a new age
of volatility.
Regardless of the decisions that have to
be made at dierent levels, there are always
people who have to deal with the changed
situation. In this area in particular, the crisis
has already shown that a stronger focus on
employees and their needs is necessary. In
an age of increasing work from home, grow-
ing process automation, and declining sales
in many industries, social issues are increas-
ingly coming to the fore; issues that are
quickly forgotten in times of economic
upswing. Keeping employee satisfaction
high in these dicult times is challenging,
but necessary, in order not to lose perfor-
mance in the long term.
Current strategies dealing with the
Coronavirus crisis
To tackle the challenges arising from the
pandemic, companies reacted very fast in
adjusting their processes and networks to
the current needs. Figure 2 outlines the
short- and long-term strategies imple-
mented by participants of the expert panel.
In the short term, companies participating
in the discussions did very well in setting up
cross-functional crisis teams that met on a
daily basis with master planners and con-
stantly evaluated the situation, imple-
mented contingency plans, and reevaluated
and adjusted forecasts more often. Timely
reactions were key to success and, while
fighting for backup supply and transport
capacity (especially air freight capacity),
most companies switched from pure cost-
thinking to availability-thinking to ensure
security of supply. While doing so, some
participants implemented supplier risk tow-
ers in the short term by using automated
supplier surveys that provided them with
up-to-date criticality scores for their sup-
plier portfolios, thereby enabling them to
manage the crisis more eciently. However,
such a crisis can increase the possibility of
overreacting to signals and overriding net-
work partners. Participants mutually agreed
that trust in their network partners and
joint collaboration with their logistics ser-
vice providers play vital roles in managing
crises in general.
As good as companies have been at
adapting to the new circumstances in the
short term, they are currently finding it dif-
ficult to adopt long-term strategies and
make decisions today for the long-term
design of their international logistics net-
works. This is, of course, also due to the fact
that future developments are highly uncer-
tain. However, some developments can no
longer be denied today, and companies will
be forced to think about what level of struc-
tural flexibility should be achieved in their
logistics networks. This includes decisions
on oshoring rates in low-cost countries, or
whether there should be a long-term
attempt to relocalize value creation toward
highly automated suppliers in industrial-
ized countries. In addition, there is already
evidence of an increased drive towards digi-
talization and automation, which were con-
sidered important previously but have
Decide on level of flexibility in logistics needed (trends towards more
supplier and carrier alternatives)
Corporate decision on off shoring and nearshoring rates
Create synergies in strategic initiatives (e.g. combine network redesign with
sustainability initiatives)
Decide on thehuman factor” in decision making and level of automation
Strategy
Short-term Mid & Long-term
Enable structural flexibility through multi sourcing (materials & transport
capacities)trend towards more decentralized network structures
Reduce network complexity
Increased outsourcing of logistics activities (potentials for LSP)
Facilitation of nearshoring if possible
Turning away from stock-less JIT supply approaches possible
Network
Have trust in network partners, trouble-shooting can make it
worse
Fight for backup supply and transport capacities
Increase in safety stock levels if supply is possible
Supplier Risk Tower (up to date supplier assessment with
vulnerability scores) with automated supplier survey
Short-term switch from cost-thinking to availability-
thinking (taking air freight over other modes of transport)
Risk mitigation jointly with 3PL
Establishment of logistics crisis plans and processes for the future
Process
Daily cross-functional crisis team meetings and calls with
master planners to develop and implement contingency plans
Adjustment of workflows / digitalization of processes
Increased frequency of forecasting and demand planning
intervals
Reduced lot sizes
Defining a catalogue of measures for a safe restart of
production and logistics
Roll-out of automation approaches to support monitoring and logistics
planning (e.g. through multi agent systems)
Development of early alert systems following AI approaches
Technology
Learn from crisis data to improve forecasting algorithms
interdisciplinary training in companies in order to broaden the areas of
application of employees
Think about home office as a long-term alternative
People
Enable home office opportunities
Short-time work & reinvented shift-systems
Lateral cooperation to increase employee utilization (e.g.
Aldi/McDonalds example)
Figure 2:
Short and
mid- or
long-term
strategies
dealing with
the
Coronavirus
crisis
STRATEGIES Covid-19
International Transportation | Collection 202012
become more pressing in the wake of the
crisis. To contribute to these decisions, the
authors drew up theses on future develop-
ments in international logistics networks in
the course of the crisis on the basis of the
discussions held; these were subsequently
evaluated by the expert panel.
Future development paths of
inter national logistics networks
Following the discussions with logistics
managers, 20 theses on potential future
developments of international logistics net-
works were formulated and assessed by the
same group of experts through a question-
naire. Figure 3 presents excerpts from the
most strongly agreed theses. It can be
observed that the need for digitalization of
logistics networks will be pushed because of
the Coronavirus pandemic. This will
include, in particular, the need for process
automation in order to gain partial inde-
pendence from personnel; however, increas-
ing speed of reaction to a constantly chang-
ing environment has also been rated as a top
trend that will be further pushed by the cri-
sis. In addition, other technological
advancements, such as intelligent ETA pre-
dictions, are seen as major success factor of
future logistics networks. As stated with
regard to current challenges, it has been
confirmed that problems with digitalizing
international logistics networks will remain
the same (e.g., data access and accuracy) and
could be even harder to solve. However,
technological solutions are available on the
market that could be able to tackle chal-
lenges arising from the crisis, although
companies are struggling to achieve the
appropriate task–technology fit.
Moreover, the role of logistics within
manufacturing companies seems to have
been strengthened owing to the crisis which
can be seen as a positive development from
the participants’ point of view. However,
although the role of logistics is strength-
ened, most companies struggle to deter-
mine the future role and goals of logistics.
Managers stressed that it must be decided at
an early stage whether, based on the lessons
of the crisis, international logistics networks
should plan to become more resilient and
agile, or whether they should position
themselves as ecient and cost-optimal,
but less reactive. Without a decision on
future goal parameters, adjustments of
logistics networks are not possible. Never-
theless, based on the discussions and theses
assessments, a slight tendency toward more
agile and resilient networks, that are allowed
to cost more, can be observed; this is also in
line with other expert-based studies in the
field of logistics [4]. Most participants are
currently evaluating localization/nearshor-
ing opportunities or, at least, dual/multi-
sourcing options. A move away from single-
sourcing models is likely, although the
future is still highly uncertain at that stage.
Nevertheless, it should also be mentioned
that there are currently no signs that the
megatrend of globalization will be com-
pletely reversed in the coming years because
of the crisis. As the number of experts par-
ticipating in this questionnaire is relatively
low, this has to be understood as a first indi-
ADDITIONAL WEBSITE LINKS
The research results of the Competence
Center for International Logistics Networks
on this and other topics related to interna-
tional logistics networks can be found online
in the freely accessible logistics planning tool
TUB Logistics Navigator (https://navigator.
logistik.tu-berlin.de/).
Additional information about the Coronavi-
rus crisis and its eects on logistics can be
found on the website of the Covid-19 expert
network of Turku University (https://sites.utu.
fi/covid-supply-chains/visiting-experts/), ini-
tiated by Prof. Lauri Ojala, where new articles
are regularly published in the field of logis-
tics by, among others, the Chair of Logistics
of the TU Berlin.
1=Totally disagree | 4=indifferent | 7=totally agree
(value that appears most often)
The need for automation of logistics processes becomes inevitable
(partial independence from personnel).
Corporate role of logistics will be strengthened throughout the crisis.
The corona crisis pushes digitalization efforts but core problems remain
the same and will be even harder to solve (e.g. access to accurate, real-
time and on-demand data through the network).
Digital workspaces and tools can be productive but will not replace face-
to-face interactions.
Intelligent ETA predictions in times of crisis will become major success
factors to enable timely responses.
Many technological solutions are already in the market but process-
technology-fit will remain challenging.
Without corporate decision on prioritization of logistics goals (e.g. time
or cost), process adjustments are not possible.
Crisis management regarding personnel will be setup.
Without transparency on network structures (incl. 3rd and 4th tier) and
current state of suppliers and customers, crisis management will not be
possible in the future.
Future supply networks will be designed for more resilience instead of
core efficiency focus.
There will be a rethink away from pure cost thinking towards a holistic
approach to sustainability.
Figure 3:
Extract of
most
strongly
agreed
theses on
future
develop-
ments of
international
logistics
networks
after the
Corona
pandemic
Covid-19  STRATEGIES
International Transportation | Collection 2020 13
cation of potential future developments;
more in-depth investigations are necessary
to draw more reliable conclusions from it.
Summary of fields of action and
outlook
From our investigations into current devel-
opments in international logistics networks
because of the Coronavirus crisis, four main
field of action are proposed that manufac-
turers should focus on to prepare their
logistics networks appropriately. These are:
(1)
digitalization and automation,
(2)
risk and volatility management,
(3)
visibility, and
(4)
sustainability.
Digitalization and automation are hot top-
ics in the wake of the crisis and need to be
tackled now. To react as fast as possible in
comparable situations in the future, compa-
nies need to think about ways to automate
important decision-making processes to
gain speed of reaction and partial independ-
ence from personnel. Pathways of digitaliza-
tion in logistics have been investigated in
the past [2], but it is possible that these
development paths will be completely rede-
signed in the course of the crisis and that
developments may gain even more momen-
tum. In conjunction with that, risk and vola-
tility management needs to reconsidered.
This includes, on the one hand, logistics
network redesign and a potential shift to
more localized and resilient logistics net-
works, and, on the other hand, target-ori-
ented use of already existing tools and, if
necessary, development of new ones to facil-
itate fast processes for timely reactions. For
example, to manage volatility eciently,
previous research developed an approach
that enables manufacturers to perform a
case-based evaluation of the current state of
volatility in a logistics network [5]. Those
approaches are necessary as managing vola-
tility is a complex task that requires cross-
functional management approaches [6].
Also relating to managing risks and main-
taining reactiveness, machine learning
approaches to enable smart ETA predic-
tions in intermodal transport chains have
been developed recently, but need to be
challenged with respect to new environ-
ments [7, 8]. Achieving and maintaining up-
to-date visibility of increasingly complex
network structures, even over several tiers
of the logistics network, while ensuring data
accuracy and availability, is certainly one of
the basic requirements in managing risks
and volatility in a timely fashion. Although
the crisis has given rise to the risk that long-
term strategic sustainability initiatives will
be withdrawn under strong cost pressure,
the crisis actually oers an equivalent
opportunity to implement a holistic
approach to sustainability that also gives
greater weight to employee satisfaction and
other social factors and to move away from a
purely short-term cost perspective.
REFERENCES
[1] Transport Intelligence (2020): European Road Freight Market Sizing
2020: Covid-19 Impact Analysis, p. 7
[2] Straube (Ed.); Junge, A.L.; Verhoeven, P.; Reipert, J. and Mansfeld, M.
(2019): Pathway of digital transformation in logistics: best practice
concepts and future developments. available at DOI: 10.14279/
DEPOSITONCE-8502
[3] Kersten, W.; Seiter, M.; von See, B.; Hackius, N. and Maurer, T. (2017):
Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management:
Digital Transformation Opportunities. DVV Media Group GmbH,
Hamburg, available at: http://logistiktrends.bvl.de/en/system/files/
t16/2017/Trends%20and%20Strategies%20in%20Logistics%20 and
%20Supply%20Chain%20Management%20%E2%80%93%20 Digital
%20Transformation%20Opportunities%20Kersten%20 von%20See
%20Hackius%20Maurer.pdf
[4] Kille, C. (2020): Die Wirkung der Corona-Krise auf den Wirtschafts-
bereich Logistik aus Sicht der Logistikweisen. BVL-Blog, 20 May,
available at: www.bvl.de/blog/wirkung-corona-krise-logistiksicht-
der-logistikweisen
[5] Nitsche, B. (2019): Development of an Assessment Tool to Control
Supply Chain Volatility. Vol. 40, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin,
Berlin, available at DOI: 10.14279/depositonce-7940
[6] Nitsche, B. and Straube, F. (2020): Eciently managing supply
chain volatility – a management framework for the manufacturing
industry. Procedia Manufacturing, Vol. 43, pp. 320–327
[7] Straube, F.; Weinke, M. and Poschmann, P. (2020): Hohes Potenzial
für lernende Systeme in logistischen Entscheidungsprozessen. Logistik
Für Unternehmen, available at: www.ingenieur.de/fachmedien/
logistikfuerunternehmen/produktionslogistik/hohespotenzial-fuer-
lernende-systeme-in-logistischen-entscheidungsprozessen/
[8] Weinke, M.; Poschmann, P. and Straube, F. (2018): Künstliche
Intelligenz in Logistiknetzwerken. Verbesserung der Zuverlässigkeit
maritimer Transportketten durch akteursübergreifende ETA-
Prognosen. Internationales Verkehrswesen, Vol. 70 No. 4, pp. 71–75
Frank Straube, Prof. Dr.
Head of Chair of Logistics,
Technische Universität Berlin
straube@logistik.tu-berlin.de
Benjamin Nitsche, Dr.
Project Team, Chair of Logistics,
Technische Universität Berlin
nitsche@logistik.tu-berlin.de
... Owing to the enormous importance of the pandemic for the design and management of international logistics networks, almost every company is affected in some way by its consequences and is trying to cope with the aggravated conditions (cf. Straube /Nitsche, 2020). Whereas in spring 2020 it was still unclear whether logistics networks would be affected by the pandemic in the long term, today this is almost beyond question. ...
... These were developed on the basis of an initial COVID-19 workshop of the IL-NET with industry experts in May 2020, evaluated by the expert panel and subsequently published (cf. Straube/Nitsche, 2020). The vast majority of participants in the workshop agreed, at that time, on those theses. ...
... Junge et al., 2019), but will now gain even more momentum in the wake of the crisis (cf. Straube /Nitsche, 2020). Not only were daily working procedures rapidly digitalized through the increased use of home offices, but logistics planning and control is also facing far-reaching changes. ...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest crises to hit international logistics networks in decades and has far-reaching consequences for the future design, planning, and management of logistics networks. Based on a focus group workshop among 25 logistics managers followed by a survey involving 37 professionals, this study seeks to outline future development paths of international logistics networks. More precisely, logistics learnings from managing the second wave are described, a gap analysis of logistics crisis management approaches is performed, future development scenarios are assessed, and fields of action are summarized.
... This is, in part, due to the increasing cost pressure that LSCM has faced for years (Handfield et al. 2013;Kersten et al. 2017), but also because the lack of qualified LSCM personnel drives companies to pursue technological progress through automation (Klumpp 2018). Although the need for automation in LSCM has existed for years, the Coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated this need, thus making the automation of LSCM processes into one of the major challenges for future logistics networks in the wake of the pandemic (Straube and Nitsche 2020;Govindan, Mina, and Alavi 2020;Ralston and Blackhurst 2020;Belhadi et al. 2021). Although practitioners acknowledge the importance of this vital topic, companies admit that they are facing difficulties in adapting their LSCM processes and environments to meet automation requirements, and they need further assistance (Kersten et al. 2017;Junge et al. 2019). ...
... Process automation is one of the core challenges for LSCM managers, and its importance is even increasing in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic (Straube and Nitsche 2020). The automation of individual processes is often the first step, or one of the early steps, that a company takes in the course of digitisation on the way to the autonomous, selfcontrolling logistics systems that, according to Junge et al. (2019), appear to be achievable in many companies by the end of this decade. ...
Article
One of the main challenges for modern logistics and supply chain management (LSCM) is the automation of processes along the supply chain. Although research on different automation applications in LSCM exists, LSCM managers lack an overall picture of possible application areas as well as the antecedents influencing the successful implementation of applications. The study applied data triangulation through a systematic literature review of 265 articles and a Nominal Group Technique exercise among 18 LSCM professionals in order to extract automation application areas as well as antecedents of successful automation projects. Through a structured synthesis process building on the Q-methodology a conceptual framework of application areas and antecedents of automation in LSCM is proposed. The framework synthesises ten application areas of automation in LSCM and ten antecedents that influence the efficient implementation and use of automation applications. The study proposes that the impact of technological and informational antecedents is moderated by organisational as well as knowledge-related antecedents, and advances propositions outlining the impact of antecedents on the successful implementation and use of automation applications. The study provides a coherent conceptualisation of automation in LSCM which provides a common basis on which to merge further discussions on automation between research and practice.
... Demand for efficiency and flexibility is at an all-time high [2] while transparency in value systems is gaining increased attention in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic [3]. Meanwhile, the DSCT is discussed as a promising solution for developing an agile logistic network. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Digital supply chain twins (DSCT) are gaining increased attention in academia and practice as they emerge as one of the most important trends in logistics and supply chain management (LSCM). Still, there seems to be no common understanding of the term in scientific literature. Moreover, the broad field of LSCM allows for a multitude of feasible application areas and use cases, yet there exists no conclusive list of them as to date. Methods: This study builds upon a systematic literature review of 66 DSCT articles to identify application areas of DSCT in LSCM as well as specific use cases and their respective intended benefits. Results: To start with, the study derives a unified definition of DSCTs, including possible scopes of applications. Afterwards, five application areas of DSCT in LSCM are synthesized as well as 14 individual use cases and their respective intended benefits. Conclusions: The study leads towards a conceptual clarification of DSCT that is of importance for research and practice alike. For managers it additionally provides up-to-date use cases to guide DSCT applications in practice.
... Although this had already been an important trend for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic additionally stressed the need for more automation in logistics networks. Straube and Nitsche [5] emphasized the need for more automation to increase responsiveness, and also to gain partial independence from personnel, which was one of the most important trends that logistics and supply chain managers already recognized at the beginning of the pandemic: A trend that manifested and even increased in importance throughout the first year of the pandemic [6]. Many other authors have also stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic eloquently expressed the need for more automation in future supply chains to achieve responsiveness and resilience [7][8][9]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The world of logistics is changing and entering a new era. The advance of digitalization and technologization enables new business models, increased process efficiencies, novel planning approaches, and much more but, on the downside, there is also the risk of being lost in the maelstrom of developments. Within these developments, the automation of logistics processes and ultimately the design of autonomous logistics systems is one of the most defining trends that has far-reaching consequences for the planning and execution of future logistics processes. This Special Issue aims to contribute to the discussion and to get to the bottom of the question of how the path towards automated and autonomous logistics systems should be designed. This editorial lays a foundation by presenting application areas of automation and discussing the theoretical path towards autonomous logistics systems. The articles that follow provide highly practical insights into current research results on the automation and autonomization of informational and physical logistics processes.
Article
Full-text available
The efficient management of production volatility directly affects the sustainability of a company. Nevertheless, to leverage the full potential of volatility, management approaches need to consider the whole supply chain rather than focusing on optimizing the own production schedule. Consequently, managing supply chain volatility is one of the core challenges of modern production networks. However, managing supply chain volatility is a difficult task, considering the fact that it can originate from a multitude of sources and managing all of them with different approaches would require too many resources. This study aims to propose a supply chain volatility management framework for manufacturing industry that outlines the core management clusters and antecedents of efficient supply chain volatility management. It builds upon two Nominal Group Technique workshops among 40 supply chain managers in total and a Q-methodology workshop with three researchers.
Development of an Assessment Tool to Control Supply Chain Volatility
  • B Nitsche
Nitsche, B. (2019): Development of an Assessment Tool to Control Supply Chain Volatility. Vol. 40, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin, Berlin, available at DOI: 10.14279/depositonce-7940