Research Area and Mission
This research programme encompasses operations research, quantitative logistics and computer science methods and applications in economics. The aim of the research group is to be at the forefront of the developments in transportation, logistics and supply chain management in interaction with decision support systems based on information and communication technology, and to make major contributions to both management science and management practice.
Phase of development
This programme has been around for more than a decade. It is currently at full strength. It is part of the LIS subprogramme of ERIM, which is considered to be among the strongest research programmes in logistics and information systems in Europe.
Strategy and Policy
The research programme is organised around four research themes concerning transportation, supply chain management, health care management and decision support systems. These themes are problem oriented, they often interact with each other and most of the researchers contribute to several research themes. The same themes are also addressed in our bachelor and master programmes in Econometrics & Management Science and Economics & Informatics, in which all researchers are actively involved. In seminars (in which students work on case studies) and while writing their bachelor or master theses, students are often exposed to the ongoing research, to which they may even contribute.
The research themes are:
Supply chain optimization and planning
This theme addresses optimization, coordination, and planning issues in supply chains. It includes reverse and service logistics. Closed-loop supply chains can play an important role in making supply chains more sustainable. Research on this theme focuses on developing analytic approaches to improve economic and environmental performance of supply chains, both in the forward chain (e.g., in agriculture) as in the reverse chain (e.g., electronic waste).
The goal of this theme is to improve the performance of passenger and cargo transportation systems. Our approach is based on the development of mathematical models for such systems, and we propose and implement algorithms for solving them. Because of close cooperation with Netherlands Railways, much of the research focuses on railway systems. Another significant research stream is concerned with issues related to the Port of Rotterdam.
Health care management
In this theme we develop models and methods to increase efficiency in health care institutions and to increase the quality of care. The planning and scheduling issues we consider are at the strategic, tactical and operational level. They include purely logistical problems as well as problems that also incorporate medical decision making. In this theme we cooperate closely with researchers from iBMG (Institute of Health Policy & Managment) and Erasmus Medical Centre.
Intelligent systems for decision support
This theme studies the application of information and communication technologies and advanced computational methods for improving decision making in business economic domains. The research has a methodological component that is based on learning computational intelligence models from large amounts of business data to enhance decision making by providing quick and timely analysis of information assets combined with advanced reasoning techniques. There is also a strong application-oriented focus for decision making in finance, marketing and logistics, amongst other fields.
Some of our research is not directly linked to one of these themes, but concerns the development and analysis of mathematical programming or computer science methods that are more widely applicable.
Much interaction exists between the research areas, with researchers often working in several areas. Within the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), the researchers of this programme work closely together in the LIS subprogramme with researchers from the Rotterdam School of Management. Within Erasmus University there is also close cooperation with iBMG and Erasmus MC through the expertise centre Erasmus Health Care Logistics.
Members of the research group have established long term cooperation with researchers at other universities in the Netherlands and abroad, such as Oxford University, the University of Florida, Sabancı University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Nanyang Technical University of Singapore, Technical University of Lisbon, Politecnico di Bari, Salford University, and Eindhoven University of Technology.
We work closely together with companies such as the Netherlands Railways and Fokker, that also sponsor our research. Other research sponsoring and cooperation within the Netherlands is established through the Service Logistics Research Forum and Dinalog, the Dutch Institute for Advanced Logistics. Furthermore, NWO sponsors one VENI and three PhD projects.
Seminars are organised on a regular basis in which internal or external researchers present their work. The members of the group give presentations about their work at other universities/research institutes and at conferences all over the world. The group is involved in the organisation of conferences and other scientific events, For instance, the 3rd International Workshop on Lot Sizing will be organized by our group at Erasmus University in 2012, and OR 2013, the International Conference on Operations Research with 700-1000 participants, will take place in Rotterdam.
Analysis, Perspectives and Expectations for the Research Programme
The programme has been quite successful both in terms of international academic publications, as well as in terms of contributions to solving practically relevant problems. Our aim is to remain active in both directions, and to keep the strong position that ERIM’s subprogramme LIS has in Europe. We expect that obtaining external funding will become more important than before (since direct funding is likely to decrease) and, as such, we will give this aspect even more attention than before.
As far as research themes are concerned, we expect that in the long term the theme on intelligent systems for decision support will become smaller in terms of publications and PhD projects. This is caused to both the discontinuation of the Economics & Informatics programmes and a decrease in (senior) faculty who specialize in this area.