Operational protocols for collaborative logistic networks: Managing a Physical Internet

Zoom Research Seminar / 5th Floor EE Lecture 2

Past event — 28 February 2024

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Gero Niemann

PhD Candidate

Kühne Logistics University - KLU

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The Physical Internet (PI) is a collaboration framework that proposes a fundamental change to the classical static end-to-end routing that is current practice in logistics and supply chain operations. It addresses logistics sustainability by focusing on profit, people, and planet in the freight sector. Drawing parallels from the architecture of the Internet, the Physical Internet envisions a world where cargo flows much like digital packets traverse the Internet. Extensive research has shed light on the conceptual aspects of the Physical Internet and its assessments, revealing promising prospects. Yet, a critical gap exists when it comes to putting these ideas into practical operation. Here, the Internet serves as a valuable precedent, constructed on research into protocols that bear resemblance to the foundational principles of the Physical Internet. Taking a cue from the Internet's TCP/IP model, we can consider a thought experiment in structuring PI-protocols that involve Sender-Receiver transfers (akin to TCP) and Node-Node transfers (comparable to IP). This research is structured around three core projects. The first project takes IP into account to build up a protocol for collaborative node-to-node transshipment operations on the individual level in the PI. The second project takes TCP into account to build up a protocol for consignor-consignee (end-to-end) communication and transshipment operation on a network level. The third project addresses the planning and pricing aspect in a dynamic Physical Internet setting where predefined routes and contracted carriers do not exist.


Gero Niemann started as a PhD candidate at Kühne Logistics University in October 2022. His research is supervised by Prof. Dr. J. Rod Franklin, P.E. and Prof. Dr. Kai Hoberg and focusses on Physical Internet (PI) inspired logistics operations fostering collaboration. With his research, he contributes to EU-projects such as "URBANE" or “DISCO”. Gero received his Bachelor of Engineering from the Hochschule Weserbergland in combination with a three-year trainee program at an industrial enterprise including an international stay at a production site in China. During his Master of Science in Management at Kühne Logistics University, Gero spent one semester at the Central European University in Budapest and enhanced his practical experience through working student jobs in process optimization and consulting as well as writing his master thesis in collaboration with Infront Consulting & Management GmbH on Digital Innovation Units of large corporates.