Business school to help cold storage supplier with network design

by Emily Atkins

Pharmaceutical transportation specialist Tower Cold Chain has commissioned scholars at Cardiff Business School, to develop a model that will optimize stock locations around the world.

The study will focus on maximizing the proximity and availability of Tower’s reusable temperature-controlled containers around the world, while minimizing unnecessary journeys.

The study will look at Tower’s real-life historical shipment data in developing the model. As well as reducing CO2 emissions caused by superfluous movement, the use of intelligent stock management through optimization and simulation techniques will ensure maximum availability of Tower’s containers to its customers.

Complex logistics

Kevin Doran

Tower Cold Chain uses reusable containers to transport critical pharmaceutical materials. While the reusable model is a more sustainable solution than single-use containers, the complex logistics involved mean that the new study provides an invaluable resource for system optimization.

“We have a growing network of hubs located at airports around the world, to ensure customers can source the appropriate cold chain container locally,” said Kevin Doran, global head of supply chain at Tower Cold Chain.

“Global demand can be difficult to forecast. Complexity of multiple stakeholders and exacting product needs creates challenges to have the right stock in the right place at the right time. Ensuring availability can lead to wasted resources so it is a process of balancing overproduction of containers with excessive movement between deployments.

“Clearly, the more synergies that can be identified, the fewer wasted movements there will be – and that’s what Cardiff Business School’s study of our data will help to deliver,” he added.

Public value

Cardiff Business School is the world’s first Public Value Business School, with a clear mission of making a positive impact regionally and globally. The school’s international faculty of scholars works closely with different organizations to conduct research into logistics, operations management and supply chain challenges.

The study will harness the School’s world-wide reputation in supply network modelling and design, and employ multi-objective optimization techniques developed at Cardiff to determine hub locations and allocate cargo. Working together, Tower and the school will analyze the process challenge and identify data-derived strategies to address wasted motion in the industry and provide sustainable growth strategies to meet a growing global demand for cold chain distribution solutions.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to apply our fundamental research findings, published in world-leading journals, in a practical setting,” said Dnyaneshwar Mogale, a lecturer in logistics and operations management, who is leading the academic input to the project.

“By co-creating and delivering the project we will help Tower Cold Chain and its customers specifically and, with our holistic systems approach, we will ensure that the environment and society also has a ‘voice.’”

Container utilization

The study will focus on the operational requirements of existing and planned container utilization. All sources of inputs will be considered, such as hub location, transit times, global sources of activity, movement efficiency, monetary costs, and environmental impact.

Reusable containers save resources, but create complex logistics challenges.

The impact of these input variables will be evaluated against three key outputs: i.e., wasted movement of empty containers, availability of containers to our customers and overall operational costs.

Optimization and simulation techniques will be used to study historical movements and provide a framework for future modelling of new opportunities and growth strategies

The end goal is to identify a new decision-making framework that will support the rapid identification of movement and stock location strategies that will minimize CO2e emission and help to consistently send temperature sensitive products to hospitals and pharmacies.

Tower believes that, through efficient deployment of stock and reduction of waste, the study will ultimately lead to a lower cost base. “We want to make sure that vital cold chain logistics are available to as broad a cross section of the global community as possible. Cardiff Business School will help us to achieve this sustainably, effectively and productively,” Doran concluded.