Five outstanding days

12th ISIR summer school delivers the best of inventory research and Hamburg

KLU hosted the 12th ISIR (International Society for Inventory Research) summer school, which was organized by Prof. Sandra Transchel, from August 17–21, 2015. It featured keynotes, tutorials, and presentations by distinguished professors and PhD students on recent research related to the central theme of value-driven inventory management in logistics and supply chains. The variety of research topics, methodologies, and the multitude of nationalities of the participants which came from Austria, China, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, and Switzerland was outstanding.

Many of the presentations focused on conventional problems of inventory research such as spare parts management, safety stock calculation, and replenishment frequency optimization. There were several other interesting presentations on research in extended supply chain problems such as the determination of stocking quantities as a function of transportation modes, product allocation in humanitarian operations, and the effects of CEO incentives on inventory levels. Literature reviews, case studies, analytical and empirical methods were the research methodologies presented. A discussion session led by a senior researcher and a PhD student followed each presentation. Because the participants had a common background in inventory research, the discussions were full of insights – some topics were so controversial that the discussions continued offline. Exciting excursions and informal events with a group including over 10 different nationalities conveyed the unique spirit of Hamburg and provided opportunities for the professors and PhD students to get to know each other.

After the welcoming address, the summer school kicked off its official academic program with a keynote presentation addressing the issue of global trends in national inventory behavior by Prof. Attila Chickàn from Corvinus University. In a lively, comprehensive presentation, Prof. Chickàn introduced the participants to the different features and importance of inventory investment in various countries. He concluded that the globalization of economic activity has a great impact on national inventory accumulation, leading to rather similar behavior in various countries. The after-noon’s keynote by Prof. Henk Zijm from the University of Twente on coordination and collaboration in freight logistics reported on a number of projects at both the national and international  levels that have been undertaken to address problems in today’s logistics and supply chains and propose smarter logistics and mobility solutions. The presentation ended with a brief discussion of a long-term vision for future logistics and supply chains: the Physical Internet.

On the second day of the summer school, Prof. Mirko Kremer from the Frankfurt School of Finance held a tutorial entitled “On the usefulness of (laboratory) experiments in OM research and how to actually pull one off.” The presentation introduced laboratory experiments as a component of operations management researchers’ methodological toolbox that has recently received plenty of attention in academia, and discussed some of the issues related to designing and conducting experiments. In the afternoon, Dr. Marcel Sieke offered some useful insight into Barkawi Management Consultants in his presentation entitled “Inventory Management – Putting theory into practice.” A case study competition on integrating complex data streams into causal and fact-based prediction models followed Dr. Sieke’s presentation. Led by Barkawi Management Consultants, the case study was based on a real project with E.ON Connecting Energies GmbH and gave the students the opportunity to collaborate in teams and acquire more practical experience.

Professor Nagesh Gavirneni from Cornell University gave the last tutorial of the summer school entitled “Initiating, conducting, and completing research in operations management: observations from the past twenty years.” In the course of promoting an open discussion between the participants, he shared his opinions on the topics, gave helpful advice, and inspired the audience members to find their own paths to good research.

An ideal platform for people from around the globe, the summer school again proved to be extremely valuable above and beyond academic purposes. Tuesday’s dinner in Wasserschloss, a traditional restaurant in the old warehouse district of Hamburg that was recently added to the World Heritage list, and Wednesday’s visit to the HHLA container terminal and harbor cruise on a barge provided space for fruitful discussions and conversations. At the same time, the participants could see some of Hamburg’s sights. And the bar crawl through Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn definitely broke any remaining ice. We hope everyone enjoyed the 2015 summer school and look forward to seeing all of the participants again soon.

By Kristoph Ullrich, Christos Bitos and Chuanwen Dong