Franklin, J. Rod and Chuanwen Dong

From the Digital Internet to the Physical Internet: A Conceptual Framework with a Stylized Network Model

Journal of Business Logistics, (2020).

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Abstract: Despite the increasing academic interest and financial support for the Physical Internet (PI), surprisingly little is known about its operationalization and implementation. In this paper, we suggest studying the PI on the basis of the Digital Internet (DI), which is a well‐established entity. We propose a conceptual framework for the PI network using the DI as a starting point, and find that the PI network not only needs to solve the reachability problem, that is, how to route an item from A to B, but also must confront a more complicated optimality problem, that is, how to dynamically optimize a set of additional logistics‐related metrics such as cost, emissions and time for a shipment. These last issues are less critical for the DI and handled using relatively simpler procedures. Based on our conceptual framework, we then propose a simple network model using graph theory to support the operationalization of the PI. The model covers the characteristics of the PI raised in the current literature and suggests future directions for further quantitative analyses.

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