Bridging the gap between industry and academia - CILT(UK)
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Bridging the gap between industry and academia

06 August 2021/Categories: CILT, Institute News

Now in its 25th year, this year’s Logistics Research Network (LRN) Annual Conference is set to explore sustainable and resilient supply chains in disruptive times. With the social, economic and environmental impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic still being felt, there is a need for academics to influence the theory and practice of logistics, with the objective of fostering resilient and sustainable global supply chains.

As such, the core purpose of future research needs not only to provide economic improvements, but also to generate wider benefits to impact current mega-trends and challenges positively. Developing those benefits is the motivation behind the LRN conference, which recognises that the effective communication of research findings is critical to supply chains and wider societal health.

Hosted by Cardiff Business School, 8th–10th September, this year’s conference is set to present 97 academic abstracts, while debating and critiquing a range of contemporary issues associated with adaptable and renewable supply chains. Themed: Sustainable and resilient supply chains in disruptive times, it will feature a range of specialist streams, including: sustainability and circular economy challenges in food supply chains; realising logistics decarbonisation: and enhancing supply chain resilience through digital transformation.

In addition, there will be the usual LRN PhD workshop on the morning of 10th September, as well as a workshop on Industry 4.0 for Resilient and Sustainable Supply Chain practices in the afternoon of 8th September. The conference will be chaired by Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Reader in Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff University, and Dr Emrah Demir is acting as a co-chair.

Dr Sanchez Rodrigues attended his first LRN conference in 2006. Since then, he has served on the LRN committee and co-chaired e-LRN2020 alongside Mohamed Naim, Professor in Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff University. He says: ‘Last year, we welcomed academics and industry delegates to e-LRN2020, and delivered an innovative conference with cutting-edge outputs, despite the challenging circumstances. In 2021, we aim to build on the success of last year’s conference with prestigious keynote speakers, several specialist streams, the iLEGO workshop, and a wide range of paper presentations in the context of resilient and sustainable supply chains, that together will stimulate the advancement of knowledge in our discipline. By including highly prolific keynote speakers from industry and academia, and strong communications throughout the year to attract more delegates, we are contributing towards the modernisation of LRN. Last year was focused on sustainable supply chains, and this year we are looking at sustainable and resilient supply chains, which is topical because of the pressures faced by industry due to climate change and COVID-19.’

While LRN has traditionally attracted academics from the UK and Europe, in recent years the team has been working hard to attract industry practitioners and academics from the USA, Australia and Asia. By bringing academia and industry together, LRN provides a forum to discuss and exchange ideas, while developing solutions to the sector’s most pressing challenges. It places a strong emphasis on collaboration with research networks in related fields and in other parts of the world, as well as with partners from business and industry.

Dr Sanchez Rodrigues says that while the conference’s online nature is a necessity due to Covid-19, LRN has chosen to approach the format as an expansion opportunity: ‘What we tried to do last year and this year is to make sure that the conference is truly global and truly relevant to academics and practitioners. Last year, 50% of those who attended were from industry, which is very important for us. LRN is a highly active and supportive network. When you present papers at the conference you get great feedback and comments. It’s a friendly and stimulating environment. Anytime I go to LRN I start thinking about new research, and apart from that, it’s a social environment with the dinners and networking. It’s a very nice bunch of people.’

Professor Joseph Sarkis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Professor Alan McKinnon, Kühne Logistics University, will run a session on the mitigation and adaption aspects of climate change related to logistics and supply chain management. It will include a discussion panel, with the two global experts examining their views and answering questions from delegates. Jenni Edwards, International Managing Director, ESC, will present a keynote speech on ethical procurement and building a sustainable and resilient supply chain. Gwyneth Fries, Senior Expert Manager, Bain & Company, will explore practical advice for measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions.

The presentation will look at some of the approaches global companies have taken to tackle the challenge of emissions reduction and provide practical advice on how to improve Scope 3 emissions management while also strengthening supply chain resilience. The final keynote is set to explore online grocery retail supply chain and capacity planning under extreme uncertainty. Christopher Kent and Tim Coughlin, Ocado, will discuss the reaction of the company’s logistics business to the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on impacts to the inbound supply chain of products and the planning of labour and assets required to outbound customer orders. This event is open to all CILT members and the wider industry and academic community. Cost for attending is £80.

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