Past research

Here you will find a selection of research projects we have completed on aspects of supply chain management that require new ideas for, or new adaptations to, the Australasian environment.

Raw log exports from Tauranga: Are they a necessary consequence of New Zealand’s position at the end of the world’s supply chain? - Professor Tava Olsen

Unimproved exports, like the massive piles of raw logs at the Tauranga port, often look like a wasted opportunity to add value, and the New Zealand (NZ) government, with its move towards investing in high value manufacturing instead, apparently agrees. But disinvesting in exports like raw logs to promote alternatives like high-value furniture goes against traditional supply chain (SC) strategy theory. That theory says commodity-type exports are a logical consequence of NZ's remote position in the world’s SC. Using a framework by Marshall Fisher from the 1990s, it teaches that commodity-type products, like logs or milk powder, are best served by efficient SCs, while innovative high-value products like custom furniture or high-tech products are best served by responsive SCs that can react quickly to changing customer demand. One key to having a responsive SC is providing a short lead-time, which is challenging to do from NZ.

Our research did not significantly disprove Fisher’s thesis. Indeed, our research tends to back-up his ideas. While there are caveats and middle grounds, fundamentally any NZ firm looking to export an innovative product with unpredictable demand is going to need to find a way to supply it with a responsive supply chain. This may involve using airfreight or moving inventory or manufacturing closer to the source. The tyranny of distance for NZ manufacturing is real and we are not going to overcome it by simply coming up with more smart ideas for high-value products. That said, it is possible to sell functional products with efficient supply chains and still receive a premium in the market, as has been effectively demonstrated by Zespri. Our red meat industry, in particular, could get smarter about how it markets itself internationally.

Warehouse location scenario analysis

This project investigated warehousing location strategies to evaluate, for an organisation, the related costs and benefits for different scenarios. Results from this project have implications for the organisation’s commercial business on lead time, serviceability, current site activities, and impact of workforce and workflow. Such objectives are achieved through activities including:

  • Process/workflow mapping.
  • Cost driver analysis.
  • Financial evaluation.
  • Qualitative and risk assessment.
  • Implications for current site.
  • Recommendations.

Port and terminal operations issues

The goal of the project was to establish the current operation issues deemed to be important by the port and terminal operators in New Zealand. Initial data about the current issues was gathered by conducting face-to-face interviews with the port and terminal operators. Then the preliminary findings from the interviews were used as discussion topics for a focus group meeting. The output from the project was a report to management on current operation issues as defined by the port and terminal operators.

Development and computational testing of new polyhedral algorithms for the solution of difficult combinatorial optimisation problems – Laleh Haerian

This research was dedicated to the design and performance measurement of new polyhedral algorithms for solving some difficult combinatorial optimisation problems. The symmetric travelling salesman problem (STSP) was chosen for study, and the related designed polyhedral algorithms were based on the multistage insertion formulation (MI) and its characteristics.

Sustainable supply chain management: A New Zealand perspective – Hendrik Reefke

Hendrik’s PhD research looked at the sustainability of supply chains in a New Zealand context. The objective was to identify the key drivers for integrating sustainable supply chain management and its potential benefits.

This research followed an iterative multi-methodological approach made up of observation, theory building, and validation. Relevant literature was reviewed to synthesise foundational knowledge, classify areas of SSCM, identify research problems and derive research requirements. An exploratory Delphi study supported the identification and assessment of key themes and influential factors for SSCM. Conceptual theory building informed by literature and the Delphi findings guided the development of a SC transformation model. This cyclical management model is customised to the requirements in SSCM and outlines processes that enable SCs to transform and progress in sustainability development. Another major stepping stone was the realisation that SCs have to adjust their strategies depending on their level of maturity. A model is proposed that integrates sustainability in SCs with maturity considerations and facilitates a structured maturity progression. It puts forward that certain enabling factors help a SC to perform activities that support SSCM, whereas disabling factors may prevent a SC from doing so. As a SC engages in such activities it develops SSCM characteristics which in combination result in higher levels of maturity. A survey facilitated the confirmation of these modelled relationships and allowed for further exploration of determinants for SC performance and SSCM maturity. To overcome the difficulties of practical implementation, a roadmap for SSCM was constructed which leverages the strengths of the developed artefacts and translates them into prescriptive SC design requirements. It offers an integrated approach that outlines how SCs can adapt key operational issues to support a holistic sustainability strategy. The described research artefacts were refined, validated and peer reviewed through expert feedback, empirical testing, and dissemination through publication in journals, book chapters, and conferences.

The effect of taking advantage of expanding 3PL services on supply chains - Peter Shi Yangyan

The globalisation of supply chains enables many organisations to emphasise logistics as part of their corporate strategy. 3PL providers can play a crucial role in the outsourcing of logistics activities. Although the development of the logistics industry in the Asia-Pacific region is fast, there are still many challenges faced by the logistics providers. Most 3PL providers offer the basic services, but rarely perform value-added services. This research mainly focuses on New Zealand and China because both countries have established close trading business relations, such as the Free Trade Agreement (NZChina FTA). The primary objective of this research is to evaluate third party purchase (3PP) as a value-added service offered by 3PL providers, based on transaction cost theory. Questionnaires and interviews are the two major research methods for this research. Structural equation modelling was used to test the hypothesised relationships. The qualitative data is qualitatively triangulated to explain the relationships through analysis by using Nvivo software. From the perspective of 3PL providers, this study illustrates that uncertainty, frequency, and transaction size, but not asset specificity, are significantly associated with 3PP service. From the perspective of 3PL users, the uncertainty factor is significantly related to 3PP service. In both countries, 3PP service is significantly associated with value-to-client and benefit-to-provider. The primary contribution from this research is to help 3PL providers gain sustained competitive advantages through offering 3PP service. Also, the research illuminates that 3PL users are able to receive more benefits by using 3PP service. This paper also discusses the theoretical contribution and managerial implications of these findings. Future research can focus on other value-added services and geographical regions.

Outcome-driven supply chain management in SME – Tom Wu

This study attempted to investigate the impacts of outcome-driven supply chain management (ODSCM) practices in SME. The study aimed to answer two main research questions:

  • What are the core processes that construct ODSCM?
  • What actual competitive advantages business can gain after ODSCM implementation?