Modeling real-world urban logistics systems – using data to master the last mile

Past event — 17 December 2018

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg, Room EE Lecture 2

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Dr. Matthias Winkenbach

Director of the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA


Urban mobility systems are facing a number of major challenges that threaten their future ability to sustain the economic and social activity of cities. First, urbanization is progressing at a rapid pace, with more than 85% of the global population expected to live in cities by 2030. Unprecedented levels of urban density, both in terms of population and economic activity, call for innovative mobility solutions for people and goods. Second, the boom in ecommerce and `on-demand consumerism´ impose an additional burden on urban logistics systems and the underlying infrastructure. Urban freight volumes are growing and becoming increasingly fragmented as customer expectations towards the speed, flexibility, reliability, and customization of their shipments are rising quickly. Existing planning tools and distribution approaches no longer allow for an effective consolidation of urban freight flows on cost-efficient and well-utilized vehicle routes. Third, the increasingly severe effects of urban mobility on the environment and public health require the adoption of cleaner, smarter and more efficient vehicles.

In this talk, Dr. Winkenbach will touch upon some of the quantitative methods and data sources employed by his team of researchers at the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab to solve real-world last-mile logistics problems, and to enable an optimal strategic design and operational planning of freight distribution systems in complex and volatile urban environments. Further, he will highlight the growing importance of data science methods for the optimal design and control of urban freight mobility systems. Using the example of several prototype applications under development at MIT CTL’s newly created Computational and Visual Education (CAVE) Lab, he will demonstrate the potential of interactive information visualization for data- and analytics-driven supply chain and logistics decision making.


Matthias Winkenbach is the Director of the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab and a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL). With his team of postdoctoral researchers, PhD and graduate students, Dr. Winkenbach is working on predominantly quantitative and data driven research in the field of urban logistics and last mile delivery. His lab is engaged in a variety of sponsored research projects with global industry partners, including Anheuser-Busch InBev (North and South America), Coca-Cola Femsa (Colombia), Walmart (United States), B2W Digital (Brazil), Flipkart (India), Adidas (Germany and United States), as well as public sector sponsors such as the World Bank and the Ministry of Transport of Chile. Dr. Winkenbach is advising several PhD and Masters students on his team and is teaching graduate courses and executive education formats on a regular basis. He recently published academic papers in Transportation Science and Interfaces, and his work has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the MIT Sloan Management Review, the Supply Chain Management Review, and Forbes. Since 2017, Dr. Winkenbach is also spearheading a new research initiative at MIT CTL at the intersection of supply chain and logistics, data science and visualization, and human decision making – the MIt Computational and Visual Education (CAVE) Lab.

Dr. Winkenbach received his Ph.D. in Logistics and his Masters in Business with specializations in Finance and Economics at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany. He also studied at NYU Stern School of Business in New York as well as at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) in Montréal, Caanada. His doctoral studies focused on the optimal design of multi-tier urban delivery networks with mixed fleets. His work was closely linked to a research project with the French national postal operator La Poste. During and after his doctoral studies, he spent several months at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Winkenbach won the Science Award for Supply Chain Management of the German Logistics Association (BVL) in 2014, and was amongst the finalists for the 2015 Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice.

Dr. Winkenbach’s previous professional work includes working with Volkswagen in South Africa on local sourcing and cost optimization, with Deutsche Telekom in Germany on co-investment models for network infrastructure expansions, with McKinsey & Company in the United States, and in Germany on organizational redesign in the automotive industry and on innovative delivery models in the postal and express logistics sector, as well as various other projects in the mining, shipbuilding, consulting and logistics industries.

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Birgit Kappert

Program Manager