Current research

Our current research is concerned with technologically sophisticated methods of solving business problems related to the delivery of products and services from the manufacturer or provider to the end-customer.

Transparency and certifications in ethical sourcing a key differentiator in the fashion industry: Miriam Seifert

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil. The industry is known for: (1) using pesticides to grow cotton more quickly; (2) using harmful chemicals to dye garments; and (3) the pollution of rivers in South-East Asia due to lack of wastewater plants treating the chemicals used in garment production. The fashion industry not only has negative impacts on the environment, but also on worker health along the vast and often hidden supply chains of fashion companies. These companies tend to outsource materials and supplies, and often do not know all of their suppliers. Consequently they often do not know where the garments or materials come from, how they were made or who made them.

Based on Miriam’s research, the founders’ awareness of the issues along the supply chains of big fashion companies made them want to focus more on ethical sourcing, supply chain transparency and creating consumer awareness about the consequences of over-consumption.

Food supply chain issues in China and the idea of optimisation: Na Luo

Rapid economic growth, globalisation, increased income, and increasing demand for food diversity, have reshaped China’s food system in the sectors of food production, processing, marketing and consumption. China’s food supply chains (FSCs) are becoming geographically longer and now include a large number of intermediaries, which increases the risk of poor food safety and quality. Many shocking scandals and food safety incidents have been exposed by the media, and this has made food supply chain management an issue of great public concern over the last few years.

Additionally, China’s FSCs are experiencing widespread co-ordination problems such as double-marginalisation, intense competition, long payment delays for delivered products, high search costs for potential buyers and sellers, and missing credit markets.

One way to solve these problems is to optimise and and integrate China’s FSCs, focusing on the relationship among FSC members and implementing optimal pricing and profit distribution under an appropriate contract arrangement. This would attain better risk control and raise FSC performance, improving sustainability and the safety and quality of food supplies.

Sustaining New Zealand’s red meat industry: Jie Gao

The red meat sector plays a crucial role in New Zealand’s economy and identity. However, in recent years its profit levels are decreasing. According to analysis, processors’ insufficient returns could stem from over-capacity, which could be caused by supply volatility. Such a predicament calls for a long-term stable supply to schedule the capacity.

From the farmers’ perspective, insufficient returns are attributed to market fluctuation and climatic variation, which have an impact on supply volatility. For example, under some extreme climatic conditions, the feeding cost increases to such high levels that farmers have to de-stock. Consequently, farmers prefer a stable market and stable prices, which bring stable returns and provide a clear budget at the beginning of each rotation.

Accordingly, a long-term cooperative commitment, including a well-designed supply and relatively stable prices, is not only capable of helping processors schedule capacity, but also promoting farmers’ profit management. As a cooperative organisation, farmers and processors are able to share rewards (not limited to revenue) and risks to promote the market’s competitiveness. Additionally, such a cooperative organisation is capable of improving productivity at all stages in the supply chain. Similar commitments have been introduced in other agricultural sectors, such as kiwifruit, with great success.

Financial metrics that predict supply chain effectiveness: Diep N. Ly

Many organisations are attempting to gain a competitive advantage through supply chain integration but struggle for efficiency and effectiveness. Effective management in a supply chain must consider using financial metrics, which reveal characteristics that are not apparent when merely reviewing data.

Many research papers empirically assess the influence of supply chain performance factors on financial performance of a firm. Yet, supply chain effectiveness measurement using integrated metrics that include both supply chain factors and financial performance factors have not been adopted.

The aim of Diep’s research is to design a tool for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) to evaluate the health of the supply chain as well as to predict the failures. Her key research questions are:

  1. Can we use publicly available financial metrics combined with supply chain knowledge to predict company failures?
  2. How do operations and supply chain metrics feed into financial metrics or vice versa? Can we design an early warning system as an issue detector of the health/effectiveness of the supply chain for CFOs?
  3. How should these metrics change depending on a company’s size and/or strategic positioning?

Risky business in wind energy – a load of hot air? Caity Butcher

Wind cannot be controlled. If it doesn’t blow you don’t have power. Hydro, on the other hand, gives operators the ability to alter dam levels. This can be a good thing for security of supply, and a bad thing when artificially high prices are drawn out due to hydro storage. Accordingly, large wind farms are a less attractive form of renewable electricity than small hydro stations; there’s the associated risk of lost profits to the operators as well as the security of supply factor (currently wind is not classified as baseline generation able to contribute during peak periods).
Using simulated windspeed data from NASA in conjunction with historic hydrology data, we can get a pretty good picture of the potential generation of power in New Zealand over the past twenty years, including the wet years of cheap electricity and the dry years with rolling brownouts. Potential wind farm sites are abundant in New Zealand, and if built across the country (i.e. not concentrated in just one place) the wind data tells us that the supply of electricity would be reasonably constant. The security of supply risk can be well managed. Knowing this provides an opportunity for legislative change to allow greater windfarm uptake.
New Zealand has a goal of 100% renewable generation by 2025, and wind farms are a very viable option to help us achieve this goal. By building wind farms that are already consented for across the country, NZ could move to 100% renewables while still meeting security of supply targets. Undoubtedly wind farms are a great consumer opportunity: cleaner/greener power that won’t cut out, and we could all save a bit on our power bills.

Environmental sustainability and supply chain trade-offs in the international trade of agro-based products: Masha Boroushaki

Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) focuses on the integration of environmental and social objectives that extend the economic dimension to the triple bottom line and beyond.

In New Zealand, the natural environment provides various benefits such as high quality of life, tourism and a basis for the country’s large exports of agriculture. However, water pollution and climate change are key concerns for the country as New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions per capita and per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) are among the top five of countries in the OECD. Also, New Zealand’s geographical location relative to its main export destinations has attracted a lot of attention in the "food miles" debate. This attention poses a risk to New Zealand’s food exports, although long supply chains might have some advantages such as lower prices or year-round availability of food products.
There is a lack of high-level overview on the environmental impacts of food processing. Regarding this matter, we will be investigating the environmental measures for the global trade of value-added agro-based products versus fresh agricultural goods to provide more sustainable global food supply chains.

Improving the bargaining power of New Zealand’s container ports: Minh Duc Do

Container ports play a crucial role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a country’s transport system. Ports are even more important for a trading nation that is far away from its international market like New Zealand.

According to Auckland Regional Holdings, current New Zealand port returns are unsustainable and insufficient to justify future investment, due to intense competition between the country’s container ports. Additionally, the top five shipping lines control more than 60% of the worldwide shipping market, which provides them with tremendous bargaining power in relation to New Zealand port operators. As a result New Zealand ports are heavily dependent on international shipping lines.

To increase the bargaining power of New Zealand ports and reduce their level of dependence on international shipping lines, two possible solutions can be considered. The first one is to use the same strategy that shipping lines have used, which is mergers and alliances between New Zealand ports. This idea was proposed a decade ago between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga - it failed. The second solution is to adopt a co-opetition strategy, whereby two or more companies can compete and cooperate with one another simultaneously. Through collaborating with competitors a port can improve its operational efficiency and reduce investment risks such as in equipment and infrastructure. A co-opetition strategy can also help related ports to strengthen their bargaining powers and to become less dependent on shipping lines.

Various international cases of port co-opetition have shown that this form of cooperation is promising. Nevertheless there is a fine line between co-opetition and monopoly. Therefore proper measures and regulations should be devised to maximise the benefits and minimise any downside of the mergers and acquisitions or co-opetition strategy.