Process Industry

Process Industry

Jan Fransoo
Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR

The process industry lab conducts research in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. These industries are of major importance to the Dutch economy, as they account for around 60 % of the total Dutch industrial production. Primarily due to extensive long-term capital investments, these industries tend to be less sensitive to offshoring, and consequently their share in Netherlands’ industrial production has been increasing.

Important Characteristics

Pharma

From an operations perspective, there are two important characteristics of the process industry. First, the production processes are highly capital intensive. Second, the gross margins tend to be small.  These characteristics imply that the efficient use of resources is a key concern, and makes the process industry unique as compared to other industries. Because of the tight margins, combined with voluminous production, even the slightest lead-time reduction or increase in machine-utilization can lead to a relatively large reduction of total cost, which makes this field very interesting for both academic modeling research and application of these models in industry.

Key Topics

The purpose of the research in our domain is to develop methods, tools, and techniques for operational decision making. The more rigorous models are published and often translated to decision support systems that are implemented in a business environment. Key research topics within the process industry lab are:

  • Production control
  • Supply chain planning
  • Integration of inventory planning and transportation planning

The current research focus drifts towards the latter. However, there still is a lot of important empirical work conducted on the former two, where master students are continuing to model important issues faced by different companies within this industry.

Achievements

The process industry lab has had great impact on the global industry over the last couple of years. Analyzing the achievements of our lab over the past decade, it was estimated that with only a number of key projects, involving companies such as DSM, MSD and SABIC, a total of 1 billion euros in total cost reduction was attained. Moreover, DSM publically stated that research at the OPAC group led to a total of 250 million in savings. Other industrial partners at which regular research work is conducted include Dow Chemical and Styron.

Ton de Kok
Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR
Nico Dellaert
Associate Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR
Simme Douwe Flapper
Assistant Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR
Jan Fransoo
Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR
Maximiliano Udenio
Assistant Professor
SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR

Our lab is involved in a number of (in-company) graduation projects of Bachelor and Master students. Some interesting, recently performed projects are:

Recent and current (joint) research & development projects include the following. These projects are usually conducted in collaboration with other universities and companies. Contact our us if you are interested in teaming up for a new project proposal.

  • For many complex capital goods, the costs of maintenance and (service) logistics represent a large fraction of the Total Cost of Ownership. Indeed, these costs are often much larger than the procurement cost. Therefore, it is essential to develop maintenance/logistics strategies that minimize cost whilst maximizing the availability and safety of assets. Many process industry ...
  • In this project, we will address this problem in 3 new and innovative ways along the supply chain planning process, namely in the improved forecasting and planning of transportation needs in the medium term and in better short term coordination between site logistics and off-site logistics (PLAN), in the sharing of inventory and railcar resources ...
  • The R&D project 4C4more addresses one of the three main themes of the Innovation Program Logistics and Supply Chains: Cross Chain Control Centers, in short 4C. The key idea behind 4C is to create economies of scale and scope through inter- and intra-supply-chain collaboration. Economies of scale refer to more efficient use of scarce physical ...