Distinguished Scholar Seminar

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Towards Physical Internet Enabled Interconnected Logistics

Benoit Montreuil
Canada Research Chair in Enterprise Engineering
Laval University, Québec, Canada

We have recently introduced the Physical Internet to enable an order-of-magnitude improvement of the worldwide economic, environmental and societal efficiency and sustainability of moving, deploying, realizing, supplying and using physical objects. The Physical Internet is an open global logistic system founded on physical, digital and operational interconnectivity enabled through encapsulation, interfaces and protocols.  Building on the Digital Internet metaphor, it aims to allow logistics, supply chain and transportation to evolve from the current integrated era, beyond the emerging collaborative era, towards an interconnected era.

In this presentation, we first overview the current global logistics efficiency and sustainability challenges, and describe the key concepts underpinning the Physical Internet and Interconnected Logistics. Then we proceed to describe the current international state of research on advancing their conceptualization; assessing their potentiality through analytical, optimization and simulation models; engineering their constituents, and validating their feasibility in the field.

Through the presentation, we put a particular emphasis on the research results and avenues most pertinent to the Coca-Cola Chair in Material Handling and Distribution, as highlighted by the following two examples. First, The Physical Internet enables a new generation of handling, transport and storage technologies adapted to exploiting designed-for-logistics set of smart modular containers, and induces a new generation of logistics facilities geared for open pooling and consolidation, fast throughput and seamless multimodality, while being environmentally and socially friendly. Second, a recent award-winning France-Switzerland-Canada project has assessed through a simulation experiment, based on real flow data from two leading French distributors and their top 100 suppliers, that Physical Internet enabled Interconnected Distribution can improve the overall logistics-induced cost of consumer-goods distribution by 30% and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.


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