OML-graduate André Snoeck receives the Netherlands Logistics Master's Thesis Award

André Snoeck, a recent graduate from the master Operations Management and Logistics from Eindhoven University of Technology, received the Netherlands Logistics Master Thesis Award during the annual vLm (vereniging Logistiek management) conference for his work on supply chain risk management. Manja Klater, student Operations Management and Logistics and finalist for the Dutch Bachelor Thesis Award Logistics, put on an impressive performance defending her bachelor thesis, but the award was won by Isabelle van Schilt from the TU Delft.   

Chairman of both vLm and the award jury, professor Jack van der Veen, praised Snoeck’s 'structured and clearly written’ thesis work for being 'rigorous and providing a relevant contribution to the academic literature, while simultaneously focusing on practical implications of the work'. Van der Veen stressed that the work of all candidates showed how innovative the field of logistics can and should be and he praised the finalists with the high level of their work.   

Snoeck developed a stochastic optimization program to evaluate mitigation investments in the supply chain. He was surprised and honored with the award:  ‘The Netherlands is famous all over the world as being one of the big logistic clusters, it makes me proud to receive this recognition from Dutch supply chain professionals.” Jan Fransoo, the supervisor of Snoeck during his thesis, together with Maximiliano Udenio and Joachim Arts, was very proud: “The thesis is highly innovative in showing that an advanced methodology can be used to inform the Executive Board level of large companies to make strategic decisions on the structure of their supply chain. It is a prima example of the type of work that the more than 150 annual graduates of the OML program can do to advance the theory and practice of Operations Management and Logistics. 

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Thesis summary
The Japanese earthquake, subsequent tsunami and the September 11 attacks in 2001 are just some of the major disruptions that have challenged global supply chains in the past. Our research helps chemical companies to better understand and prepare for those high-impact, low-likelihood events to save millions of dollars during disruptions.  

The 2015 explosion and subsequent outages at the Shell Moerdijk chemical plant received a lot of media and industry attention. Such severe supply chain disruptions have a massive impact on the image and financial performance of all companies in the supply chain. However, it is a challenge to justify investments in supply chain resilience, because no one knows when the next disruption will take place and `nobody gets credit for solving problems that did not happen'.

Therefore, we provide a methodology to identify, categorize and quantify the impact of disruptions and potential mitigation options to support decision making. The kernel of the project is the development and use of a two-stage stochastic optimization model to analyze the complex supply chain interdependencies and dynamics in an integrated way. By utilizing the property that supply chains are generally only disrupted for a fraction of the time, we are able to drastically reduce the model size compared to similar models presented in literature. 

Based on a case study of a European supply chain of a global chemical company, our study shows the trade-off between long-term expected costs minimization and short term risk minimization, where the latter leads to a more aggressive investment policy.