Kai Hoberg is Head of Department of Operations and Technology and Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Strategy at Kühne Logistics University since November 2017. He joined the KLU as an Associate Professor in May 2012. From 2010 to 2012 he was Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at the University of Cologne. Kai Hoberg received his PhD in 2006 from Münster University, Germany under supervision of Prof. Dr. Ulrich W. Thonemann.
In his academic career he was a visiting scholar at different top universities such as S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, Israel Institute of Technology, NUS Business School at National University of Singapore, Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Stellenbosch. Kai Hoberg earned a Diplom Degree in Industrial Engineering at Paderborn University, Germany and Monash University, Melbourne.
Kai Hoberg’s current research topics include supply chain analytics, the role of technology in supply chains, inventory modeling, and the link between operations and finance. In particular, he explores the fundamental drivers of supply chain performance and strategies applying real-world data. His research findings have been published in academic journals like Journal of Operations Management, Production and Operations Management or European Journal of Operational Research. Besides research, Kai Hoberg is very enthusiastic about teaching supply chain management applying new teaching concepts.
Before returning to academia, Kai Hoberg worked as a strategy consultant and project manager for Booz & Company from 2006 to 2010. He conducted supply chain and operations management projects for numerous clients, in particular in consumer, chemicals and discrete manufacturing industries. Currently, he is active as faculty for executive supply chain education for global firms.
Up Close & Personal
“What really sets KLU apart for me is its small set-up. We know our students, we know our colleagues, and we can easily connect to them.”
– Prof. Dr. Kai Hoberg
Heinen, Jakob and Kai Hoberg (2019): Assessing the Potential of Additive Manufacturing for the Provision of Spare Parts, Journal of Operations Management, 65 (8): 810-826.
Abstract: Spare parts are a particularly interesting application for switching production from traditional manufacturing (TM) to additive manufacturing (AM). Research assessing AM has primarily addressed cost models centering on the production process or the operations management of separate spare parts. By combining case study, modelling, and design science elements, we adopt a holistic perspective and develop a design to examine the systematic leverage of AM in spare parts operations. Contextually grounded in problems faced by a leading material handling equipment manufacturer that is challenged by common characteristics of after-sales operations, we engage with practice to propose a portfolio level analysis examining the switchover share from TM to AM. Using a dataset of 53,457 spare parts over nine years, we find that up to 8% of stock keeping units (SKUs) and 2% of total units supplied could be produced using AM, even if unit production costs are four times those of TM. This result is driven by low demand, high fixed costs, and minimum order quantities in TM. Finally, we present the evaluation by the case company's management and highlight five areas of opportunity and challenge.
Badorf, Florian, Stephan M. Wagner, Kai Hoberg and Felix Papier (2019): How Supplier Economies of Scale Drive Supplier Selection Decisions, Journal of Supply Chain Management, 55 (3): 45-67.
Abstract: Supplier selections are complex but nonetheless strategically important decisions that are influenced by numerous factors. Drawing on the resource-based and relational view of the firm, we investigate how suppliers’ economies of scale influence the buyer’s selection decision, and we illustrate how the influence of scale is contingent upon important economic, buyer, and relationship characteristics. We test the model with a large secondary dataset of actual supplier selection decisions from the automotive industry and show that economies of scale have a strongly positive but diminishing effect on the buying firm’s supplier selection decision. These effects are reinforced or extenuated by economic, buyer, and relationship characteristics, with characteristics that are more specific to the buyer-supplier situation (e.g., relationship duration and power balance) having a stronger moderating effect than do characteristics that are more global (e.g., economic cycle). Our research helps suppliers to better understand how to manage selection probabilities with buyers and provides buying firms with a better understanding of how contextual factors affect the benefit of supplier-provided economies of scale.
Dong, Chuanwen, Sandra Transchel and Kai Hoberg (2018): An Inventory Control Model for Modal Split Transport: A Tailored Base-Surge approach, European Journal of Operational Research, 264 (1): 89-105.
Abstract: Firms are increasingly interested in transport policies that enable a shift in cargo volumes from road (truck) transport to less expensive, more sustainable, but slower and less flexible transport modes like railway or inland waterway transport. The lack of flexibility in terms of shipment quantity and delivery frequency may cause unnecessary inventories and lost sales, which may outweigh the savings in transportation costs. To guide the strategic volume allocation, we examine a modal split transport (MST) policy of two modes that integrates inventory controls.We develop a single-product–single-corridor stochastic MST model with two transport modes considering a hybrid push–pull inventory control policy. The objective is to minimize the long-run expected total costs of transport, inventory holding, and backlogging. The MST model is a generalization of the classical tailored base-surge (TBS) policy known from the dual sourcing literature with non-identical delivery frequencies of the two transport modes. We analytically solve approximate problems and provide closed-form solutions of the modal split. The solution provides an easy-to-implement solution tool for practitioners. The results provide structural insights regarding the tradeoff between transport cost savings and holding cost spending and reveal a high utilization of the slow mode. A numerical performance study shows that our approximation is reasonably accurate, with an error of less than 3% compared to the optimal results. The results also indicate that as much as 85% of the expected volume should be split into the slow mode.
Udenio, Maximiliano, Kai Hoberg and Jan C. Fransoo (2018): Inventory Agility upon Demand Shocks: Empirical Evidence from the Financial Crisis, Journal of Operations Management, 62: 16-43.
Steinker, Sebastian, Kai Hoberg and Ulrich W. Thonemann (2017): The Value of Weather Information for E-Commerce Operations, Production and Operations Management, 26 (10): 1854-1874.
Abstract: To be efficient, logistics operations in e-commerce require warehousing and transportation resources to be aligned with sales. Customer orders must be fulfilled with short lead times to ensure high customer satisfaction, and the costly under-utilization of workers must be avoided. To approach this ideal, forecasting order quantities with high accuracy is essential. Many drivers of online sales, including seasonality, special promotions and public holidays, are well known, and they have been frequently incorporated into forecasting approaches. However, the impact of weather on e-commerce operations has not been rigorously analyzed. In this study, we integrate weather data into the sales forecasting of the largest European online fashion retailer. We find that sunshine, temperature, and rain have a significant impact on daily sales, particularly in the summer, on weekends, and on days with extreme weather. Using weather forecasts, we have significantly improved sales forecast accuracy. We find that including weather data in the sales forecast model can lead to fewer sales forecast errors, reducing them by, on average, 8.6% to 12.2% and up to 50.6% on summer weekends. In turn, the improvement in sales forecast accuracy has a measurable impact on logistics and warehousing operations. We quantify the value of incorporating weather forecasts in the planning process for the order fulfillment center workforce and show how their incorporation can be leveraged to reduce costs and increase performance. With a perfect information planning scenario, excess costs can be reduced by 11.6% compared with the cost reduction attainable with a baseline model that ignores weather information in workforce planning.
|since 2017||Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Strategy at Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany|
Associate Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Strategy at Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany
Visiting scholar at the NUS Business School, National University of Singapore, Singapore (Host: Professor Chung Piaw Teo)
|2010 - 2012|
Assistant Professor for Supply Chain Management at University of Cologne, Germany
|2006 - 2010|
Project manager and strategy consultant at Booz & Company (formerly Booz Allen Hamilton) in the European Operations team with functional focus on supply chain and operations management
|2005 - 2006|
Research and teaching assistant at the Seminar for Supply Chain Management and Management Science, University of Cologne (Professor Ulrich W. Thonemann)
Visiting scholar at the School of Industrial Engineering and Management, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel (Host: Professor Yale T. Herer)
Visiting scholar at the S. C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (Host: Professor James R. Bradley)
|2001 - 2005|
Research and teaching assistant at the Institute of Supply Chain Management, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (Professor Ulrich W. Thonemann)
|2000 - 2001|
Students research assistant at the Institute for Production Management, Paderborn University (Professor Otto Rosenberg)
Dr. rer. pol. at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster „Analyzing the Fundamental Performance of Supply Chains: A Linear Control Theoretic Approach”, Co-Chairs: Professor Ulrich Thonemann and Professor Jörg Becker
Dipl.-Wirt. Ing. in Industrial Engineering at Paderborn University with majors in operations research, production management and electrical engineering, Diplom thesis “Practical Model Formulations and Solutions in Detailed Facility Layout Planning“”
Project Experience (Selection)
- Supply chain strategy definition for consumer goods division in the chemical industry
- Supply chain strategy definition for aircraft component manufacturer
- Operations strategy definition for recycling machine manufacturer
- Working capital reduction for global steel manufacturer
- Operations segmentation for pharmaceutical custom manufacturer
- Setup of European logistics footprint for consumer goods manufacturer
- Organizational re-alignment of supply-side departments for consumer goods manufacturer
- Operations model for sourcing joint venture of two global consumer goods companies
- Optimization of promotion-related supply chain processes for department store
- Development of a supply chain analysis tool for a global technology enterprise
What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing – as Aristotle pointed out almost 2,400 years ago, learning is about gaining experience. To manage future supply chains, students need to acquire knowledge in numerous fields from mathematical modeling to negotiation skills. However, students need to learn fast in order to keep pace with the constantly accelerating complexity of our supply chains. Different learning styles are available to teach students those supply chain concepts that can make the difference between failure and success. A teaching method that has proven very effective is experiential learning: students learn directly from their own experience.
A classic experiential learning in supply chain management has been around for many years: MIT’s beer game. In a fascinating simple and concise way, generations of students have played the beer game to understand the supply chain dynamics that trigger the bullwhip effect. Departing from the classic beer game many extensions in experiential learning for supply chain management have been made. However, the simplicity and frugality of the beer game has often been lost when students were required to read through thick manuals and spend days to prepare and conduct games.
At Kühne Logistics University and University of Cologne, Prof. Dr. Kai Hoberg has worked on developing experiential learning games for teaching supply chain management. He focuses on simplicity while carving out the core learning objective. Certain games are played by the entire class whereas other games are performed by a group of students that is observed and evaluated by the class. In other settings, students conduct role plays to highlight problems that are further analyzed. The range of topics spans from very strategic issues around supply chain design or supply chain finance to very operational issues in warehousing. Here is a selection of games that provides an overview on different experiential learning approaches:
- Postponement: Students manage a fashion supply chain and learn how postponement and design-for-supply-chain can be beneficial in settings with long lead times and high demand uncertainty.
- Warehouse Picking: Students observe warehouse operations of few students who are picking parts for distribution. Different picking schemas are compared, performance is observed and aligned picking schemas are developed.
- Service Level Alignment: Students observe discussions between sales managers and supply chain planners and analyze data to realize that the service level definition that is applied in the firm does not reflect customer requirements.
We are happy to provide you with more information as required. Please feel free to contact Kai Hoberg for materials or discussions on experiential supply chain management learning.