All posts by plnworkgroup

New DAAD Rise Research Intern

Mid of may, the Production & Logistics Networks Workgroup was happy to welcome Mian Zhong as our DAAD Rise Research Intern for 2017.

This is already the fourth consecutive year that the workgroup has hosted students from US and UK universities for summer research internships. Mian is a statistics major at UC Berkeley.

The RISE program is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

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PLN Workgroup publishes report on cooperative risk management

Study: Cooperative Risk Management to Master Problems in the Supply Chain
Problems in the supply chain affect almost every company. Cooperative risk management can help. But only a few companies use it to gird themselves for a crisis. The extent to which cooperation can protect supply chains is being examined at Jacobs University in Bremen in a current study that was brought to life with the aid of the Funk Foundation.

Highly networked systems, a high degree of internationalism, and a large number of partners working together in a network are the hallmarks of the supply chains of many companies today. With increasing complexity, the risk of problems also rises. The Production and Logistics Networks Workgroup at Jacobs University Bremen surveyed 216 companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland regarding existence-threatening supply chain risks and measures for risk management.

99 per cent of the companies surveyed said they had experienced problems in their supply chain in the past five years. At 73 per cent, companies in the automotive industry rate problems in the supply chain as a distinctly greater problem than in other sectors. The most frequent causes are faulty product quality, outages of equipment and control systems, and insolvency. Only 28 per cent of the supply chain problems described have their origin in the surveyed companies themselves.

Study Director Professor Julia Bendul explains: “Most of the problems develop through external influences, for which the companies should prepare accordingly. Cooperation among the suppliers or within a specific sector helps decrease the reaction time and the negative financial effects of a problem in the supply chain. That is more efficient than when each company prepares for the crisis in isolation.” The potential of risk management, however, is not always exploited, as the study shows: Although those surveyed make comparatively little use of cooperation as a risk management instrument, they rate it as the most effective measure. Only about 22 per cent had planned cooperation in advance as a risk management instrument.

Hendrik F. Löffler, Chairman of the Managing Board of the Funk Foundation: “The Funk Foundation supports new ways of dealing with existence-threatening problems in the supply chain. Therefore, the focus is on the question of how cooperative risk management has to be structured, so that it is applied in actual practice.” Central to the success of such cooperation is a trusting relationship of the employees with one another, says the study. Insurance companies also offer great potential. In cooperation during a crisis, they can play a coordinating and neutral role, which they can offer actively.

Download here…

Workshop with SOS Méditerranée

On Friday, February 3rd, Prof. Bendul and students from the “Production & Technology Management” class (part of the Industrial Engineering & Management Bachlor Program) held a workshop with volunteers from SOS Méditerranée, an european non-governmental organization that operates the search & rescue (SAR) ship Aquarius in the Mediterranean sea to save the lives of refugees in distress at sea.

In small groups, students and volunteers discussed a wide range of topics of concern for the organization, including fund-raising, ship-equipment, water surveillance, etc.. Over the next three months, the students will work on these topics as a class project and put their knowledge to good use.

You can find some impressions from the workshop below. Pictures by Paul Ladwig.



CIRP CMS Papers online

The contributions of PLN workgroup members to last years CIRP sponsored conference on manufacturing systems (CMS) in Stuttgart have now been published under a creative commons license in Procedia CIRP.

  • View document on publisher site V. Vican and J. Bendul, “Towards the Investigation of Production Order Interdependency Effects on Logistics Performance.” 2016, pp. 146-151, Factories of the Future in the digital environment – Proceedings of the 49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems.
    title = "Towards the Investigation of Production Order Interdependency Effects on Logistics Performance",
    journal = "Procedia CIRP",
    volume = "57",
    number = "",
    pages = "146 -- 151",
    year = "2016",
    note = "Factories of the Future in the digital environment - Proceedings of the 49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems",
    issn = "2212-8271",
    doi = "10.1016/j.procir.2016.11.026",
    url = "",
    author = "Victor Vican and Julia Bendul",
    keywords = "Production",
    keywords = "Order",
    keywords = "Interdependency",
    keywords = "Granular",
    keywords = "Matter ",
    abstract = "Manufacturers continuously face the challenge of driving down costs while being subjected to increasingly globalized market pressures to shorten production lead times and increase delivery reliability. The early prediction of the expected logistics performance of single production orders as well as for the entire manufacturing system is a pivotal strategic corporate activity. However, companies frequently find themselves struggling to foresee and integrate operational dynamic effects related to production orders into production planning decisions. Such dynamic interdependency effects between orders in close temporal and spatial neighbourhoods can have an impact on logistics performance. In this research, we introduce an index measure that quantifies the spatial and temporal relation of production orders and investigate dynamic effects of production order interdependencies using real production feedback data and derive first results for the improvement of the prediction of logistics performance in an early production planning stage as well as for the configuration of production planning and control."
  • View document on publisher site H. Blunck and J. Bendul, “Controlling Myopic Behavior in Distributed Production Systems — A Classification of Design Choices,” Procedia CIRP, vol. 57, pp. 158-163, 2016, Factories of the Future in the digital environment – Proceedings of the 49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems.
    title = "Controlling Myopic Behavior in Distributed Production Systems --- A Classification of Design Choices",
    journal = "Procedia CIRP",
    volume = "57",
    number = "",
    pages = "158 -- 163",
    year = "2016",
    note = "Factories of the Future in the digital environment - Proceedings of the 49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems",
    issn = "2212-8271",
    doi = "10.1016/j.procir.2016.11.028",
    url = "",
    author = "Blunck, Henning and Bendul, Julia",
    keywords = "Manufacturing System Design",
    keywords = "Distributed Control",
    keywords = "Myopia",
    keywords = "Industry 4.0",
    abstract = "The future of manufacturing and logistics is currently envisioned under many names: Industry 4.0, Manufacturing 2.0, Physical Internet, etc. They share the vision of distributing control tasks to 'smart' machines and products to attain higher flexibility, adaptability, and, in the light of increasingly complex and dynamic environmental conditions, higher logistic performance. The flip-side of such systems under distributed control is the rise of myopic (short-sighted) decision making, leading to system nervousness and loss of performance. Designing manufacturing (control) systems for distributed control hence is a significant challenge: With the system performance becoming an emergent property of the interplay of various decision making entities, system designers become conductors of societies of cyber-physical systems, seeking to balance the desirable traits of distributing control while limiting the negative effects of myopic decision making. In this contribution, we set out to help manufacturing system designers to better understand myopic behavior and the design decisions that are known to affect it. Our contribution can serve as a design aid for planners of distributed control systems by structuring the solution space of design decisions to control myopic behavior. By pointing to examples from various research streams, we provide guidance for system designers, seeking to maximize the performance of distributed production control systems."

Successful PhD Defense by Stanislav Chankov

It’s been a successful fall for the PLN workgroup, after two other colleagues, Stanislav Chankov was the third PhD student from the workgroup to defend his PhD thesis in the last months.

His cumulative dissertation entitled “Synchronization of Manufacturing Systems – Definition, Measurement, Triggers and Effects” investigates the phenomenon of synchronization in material flow networks, discussing both the causes and consequences on production performance.

His thesis was approved by the committee comprised of Prof. Julia Bendul, Prof. Marc-Thorsten Hütt (both from Jacobs University) and Prof. Michael Freitag (BIBA, University of Bremen)

Students visit Volkswagen in Hannover

On November 22nd, a group of our Bachelor and Master students visited the Volkswagen plant in Hannover, Germany, where Volkswagen builds parts of its utility vehicle range.

The excursion was largely self-organized by the students, who could get a glance at almost all steps of the automotive production process from frame-and-body construction to final assembly and see one of the industry’s largest presses in action.


Jacobs Students visit ArcelorMittal

Today, the first students from our first year course “Introduction to Industrial Engineering” had the to opportunity to visit the site of ArcelorMittal here in Bremen.

The students learned first hand about the complexity of steel production processes. ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steel producer with plants all over the world.

The PLN workgroup is committed to exposing students to “the real world” as part of our diverse teaching portfolio on both the Bachelor and Master level.


Successful PhD-Defense by Oliver Herr

Yesterday, November 16th 2016, our former colleague Oliver Herr successfully defended his PhD-thesis entitled “Decision Support for Continuous Casting Planning – A Novel Decomposition of the Continuous Casting Planning Problem”.

His thesis committee was comprised of Prof. Werner Bergholz, Prof. Katja Windt, Prof. Asvin Goel (now at Kuehne Logistics University) and Prof. Frank Meisel from the University of Kiel.

Congratulations Dr. Olli!