ILS 2014, a buffet of logistics and OR

This post was originally written for OR Complete. I re-post it here in case you missed the original posting.

ILS – a short name for the International Conference on Information Systems, Logistics and Supply Chain, is a bi-annual conference focusing on global supply chain and logistics management, with a focus on information systems and decision support systems. The attendance comes mainly from European and North American researchers, but there were also participants from Tunisia, Morocco and Korea.  It’s a small but very specialized scientific conference, attracting between 50 to 100 presentations. The number is limited mostly because in order to present, you must submit a 8 to 10-page paper, which is subject to a double peer-review.

This year’s conference was hosted at the DINALOG – the Dutch Institute for Advanced Logistics, in the City of Breda. Dutch researchers are renown for their research in partnership with the private sector, and they made a good display of those skills at the conference. The first three plenary speakers – Goos Kant, Alexander Verbraeck and Martin de Ruiter – presented innovations arising from projects conducted in partnership between academia and industry. Luke Disney from North Star Alliance also explained how global supply chains can have negative externalities, such as the spreading of pathogens across countries. Fortunately, he has also shown how logistics concepts can be used to mitigate these problems. The last plenary speaker, Mikael Rönnqvist – a colleague and also a good friend of mine – presented how OR can help companies collaborate in the field of logistics to reduce their costs.

While the focus of this conference is on logistics, operations research remains the tool of choice to deal with logistics problems. The vast majority of presented papers used modeling, optimization and/or simulation. Both theoretical works and practical applications were presented. The conference closed with the visit of the Port of Rotterdam, which is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. While there were less papers in my fields of study than I anticipated, I was really happy to learn about all the projects done here in The Netherlands with many organizations.

Large conferences like the INFORMS Annual present better opportunities for networking and for meeting outside of your field, dedicated conferences – especially those with proceedings and who are not afraid to reject bad papers – are the best places to see where the state of the art of your field is, and also to get good comments from reviewers and participants before submitting a paper to a journal. The submission period typically ends 5-6 months before the conference to leave time for the review process.

The next edition of the conference will be held in June 2016, in Bordeaux, France.

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