The Chair of Production & Supply Chain Management combines the research topics “Production Management”, “Supply Chain Management”, and “Resource Management”. We research to make production processes, products, and materials energy- and resource-efficient by using methods of Operations Research.

The interdisciplinary collaboration of the chair with the research group “Resource Lab” of the Institute for Materials Resource Management creates a unique research environment for sustainability-oriented researchers in business administration, information systems and industrial engineering, and business-oriented researchers in related disciplines.

Production Management

Almost all industrial businesses are faced with decision problems in production management which are not only of high practical relevance but also scientifically very interesting. The research group “Production Management” therefore aims to develop concepts and methods that contribute both a high scientific value and lead to new insights and address real business problems. In general, problems of operational and tactical production planning and control and the application, development, and connection of methods of Operations Research and Machine Learning are studied.

Scheduling

One research focus is the development of problem-specific scheduling algorithms to solve (highly) complex machine scheduling problems. We consider traditional properties of productions systems and goals and their interdependencies with other systems like material logistics and energy provision.

Energy-efficient production

The implementation of energy-efficient production is a key towards reducing the final energy demand of the industry and their decarbonization. We research new, improved optimization routines for strategic planning and operations of production systems with corresponding energy provision systems. In particular, new challenges arise through the electrification of production processes and the provision of the required (electric) energy with renewable energies.

On-Demand Advanced Planning & Scheduling Systems

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) often lack the financial strength and knowledge to introduce and operate decision support systems for production management (“Advanced Planning & Scheduling Systems”) which is also true for the implementation of “Industry 4.0“ concepts. Our research aims to develop appropriate services which can be used “on-demand” with the highest reliability and data security. SMEs shall be enabled to unlock potentials of current technological developments like “Internet of Things”, “Cyber-physical Systems”, or “Cloud Computing”, to integrate them into production management and, thereby, realize the vision of “Industry 4.0”.

Supply Chain Management

In the research field “Supply Chain Management”, we plan forward and reverse supply chains. We address strategic, tactical, and operational problems starting with procurement, over production and distribution to sales. A focus is on sustainable Supply Chain Management in terms of a circular economy and bioeconomy.

Supply and demand forecast

The demand forecast is a crucial step in planning value chains, predominantly carried out before all other planning steps. In the area of the bioeconomy, a specific challenge is the supply forecast based on yield and residuals like straw and bark. We develop forecast methods considering both the pressure to increase yields and the challenges of climate adaptation.

Strategic network planning

The design of production and recovery networks is a complex strategic decision problem. A functional circular economy requires, for example, the strategic location of process and recovery facilities in order to be cost-efficient and avoid environmental impacts caused by avoidable transport and land-use changes. In particular, we evaluate the trade-offs between the economic profitability of networks and various ecological and social impacts.

Product-oriented sustainability assessment

The ecological assessment of products requires consideration of all material inputs and emissions from the cradle to the grave of the product and the impacts onto other value chains. For example, we evaluate the benefits of re-using electrical devices over new production, potential ecological savings of substituting fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based plastics with bio-based ethanol and bio-based plastics. We also assess the true prices of conventional and organic food if environmental impacts were adequately reflected.

Resource Management

The research group „Resource Management” deals with the practical implementation of circular economy, the criticality assessment of raw materials, and the metal ecology. We combine the methods of Industrial Ecology, Life Cycle Assessment, and Material Flow Analysis with established methods for optimization and simulation from Operations Research.

Circular Economy

The goal of a Circular Economy is to keep materials in use for as long as possible so that only unavoidable waste streams need to be replaced with primary production, including waste prevention, re-use, repair, remanufacturing, and recycling. We research the cost-optimal and environmentally optimal design of recovery networks and explore Circular Economy concepts for various products and metals from WEEE to agricultural and forestry residues. Global material cycles are as much a focus as regional solutions.

Critical raw materials

Criticality assessments can help identify risk-affected raw materials and materials in the value chain. We work on the application and further development of assessment methods for supply risks, vulnerability assessments and quantify the often linked social implications.

Metal Ecology

One other research area is the ecosystem of metals. From mining, material extraction, and processing to metallic products and their sustainable use up to waste collection and sorting, including efficient recycling, we assess material flows and evaluate the sustainability of metal use. Our topics cover both mass metals for infrastructure and consumer goods, like steel and aluminum, as well as specialty metals like neodymium, indium, lithium, and cobalt. The goal is to develop new assessment methods for cycling metals and record material flows of metals in the global economic system.

Research projects

The chair works on projects with industry funding and other funded projects. The following projects are a selection of projects carried out at the PSCM Chair and the Resource Lab:

 

  • reGIOcycle
    Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
    2020 – 2024
     
  • DownMet
    Umweltbundesamt (UBA)
    2018 – 2020
     
  • REHAP
    Horizon 2020 grant No. 720670
    2016 – 2020
     
  • Preparation for Re-Use
    Bayerisches Umweltministerium (StMUV)
    2016 – 2020
     
  • Municipal Waste Prevention Concepts
    Bayerisches Umweltministerium (StMUV)
    2013 – 2015
     
  • Criticality Assessments for SMEs
    Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU)
    2013 – 2014

International research collaborations

In our research, we collaborate with researchers all over the world. This competence network enables training and research concepts going beyond the opportunities of a single research area. Our research network includes colleagues at the following universities:

 

  • Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
  • University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, USA
  • University of Hawai’i, Manoa, Hawai’i, USA
  • Waseda University, Tokio, Japan
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

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