Industrial giants work together to achieve better production logistics
Good control of the flow of resources and information is often the key to an efficient production system. The LOVIS research project – logistics visibility – allows manufacturers to keep better check on the flow of materials, and in so doing, to benefit the environment and improve the competitiveness of their own businesses. Professor Magnus Wiktorsson is leading the project from KTH Södertälje with Scania, AstraZeneca, Odette and Lund University as collaborating partners.
Magnus Wiktorsson, what kind of problems are you solving with the LOVIS project?
– Transparency and visibility in internal and external logistics has long occupied a lot of researchers and practitioners. By knowing where materials and resources are and what status they have, production managers can make improvements – both big and small – in sustainability, efficiency and flexibility.
– Modern real-time technologies and computing power provide new opportunities for charting this. We are also seeing an increase in the call for environmental impact analysis, which is making new demands in terms of tools.
You will be investigating two digital applications for material flows – which ones?
– Yes, we have two prospects in the same project: internal and external visibility. Scania, one of our industrial partners, is good at keeping track of their material flows inside their own factories, whereas AstraZeneca has high requirements and experience of external traceability with regard to materials from subcontractors.
– Allow me to put this in more concrete terms. For example, the companies have so-called “control towers” for incoming materials and components. This is where they will do further work on data analysis and visualisation in order to show status and how it can affect planned production. The same overview is required for internal material flows – wanting to see what the status is and to predict any disruptions.
– By involving these two Södertälje companies, we can share experiences: Scania can get better at their external visibility and AstraZeneca can improve their visibility internally. KTH and Lund University are taking the role of collecting knowledge with regard to visibility in logistics, based on both external and internal perspectives.
What is each party bringing to the party?
– We all contribute different areas of expertise and experiences. Lund University brings excellence in logistics in the form of the highly qualified researcher Jan Olhager, who also has a background here in Sodertalje. Scania and AstraZeneca bring real cases, share exclusive information and are both planning to submit a doctoral student each. KTH Södertälje will also be contributing with a doctoral student within production logistics, while Odette is contributing its expertise within standards and best-practice.
– The collaboration with industry is invaluable for us researchers! This is something of a model project for KTH Södertälje – one in which we are creating a focussed team with a doctoral student each from KTH, Scania and AstraZeneca and based around a research question.
What is the goal?
– The team from production logistics at KTH Södertälje, together with Jan Olhager at Lund University, will create a collective knowledge base on internal and external visibility, with the aim being to create a white book or handbook that can be disseminated beyond the consortium. Odette and Produktion2030 (which is funding the project) are both playing important roles in this, since both have an interest in spreading knowledge and good practice.
And what now? What are you going to get your teeth into first?
– At the kick-off on 21 May, we drew up a detailed work plan. Next we will recruit doctoral students and secure the participation of all the parties. By the autumn you will be able to expect a more detailed analysis of how internal and external visibility can be further developed.
Text: Ulrika Georgsson
Photo: Top image from Pixabay