A look back at the 2021 digital eXplore conference!


The Luxembourg Centre for Logistics & Supply Chain Management, in the Faculty of Law, Economics & Finance at the University of Luxembourg, was proud to showcase a broad spectrum of expert speakers from academia, consulting, and industry. Over 150 participants joined in from around the world to discuss DATA DRIVEN SUPPLY CHAINS, over the two-day digital eXplore Conference on 9 and 10 March 2021.

Mr. Mario Grotz, who directs the digital transformation for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade, made the point that data driven approaches will be important to make logistics and supply chains more sustainable. He indicated that it is the intention of Luxembourg to stay at the forefront of digital transformation and use it as a tool to create sustainability. He called our attention to several initiatives of the government to help public and private partners to collaborate in this domain.

 Dr. Alexis Bateman (MIT) talked about the way transparency is a challenge already and how can be decomposed in visibility (know what is going on) and disclosure (with whom do I share this information). Different companies are subject to different external pressures in this regard. Transparency may be a key driver of sustainability, and Dr. Bateman also linked data driven approaches to sustainability in logistics and supply chains.

Our own Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Sarah Van der Auweraer demonstrated how service logistics can be done in a smarter way by collecting data about the factors that cause equipment to need servicing. We also saw that gathering the data is not easy, and that there is a trade-off between sophistication and practicality of data driven approaches. Just bringing the data together in an accessible form can be a challenge.

Francesco Ferrero of LIST (Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology) gave an excellent example of how this information has been assembled into a so-called Control Tower for Luxembourgish hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.

Professor Robert Boute talked about the four basic stages of different technical levels of sophistication and organisational maturity. In aligning the technical levels of sophistication, there is always a balancing act of what is practical, desirable, and what the organisational maturity can handle. An essential concept in the joint development of technical sophistication and organisational maturity is to compare the degree of automation with the degree of responsibility.

In any case, as our Day 2 panelists (Dr. Maria Jesus Saenz, Dr. Bram Kranenburg, Mr. Manuel Davy, and Dr. Jens Schiefele) alongside moderator Professor Nils Löhndorf concurred, automation is neither a magic bullet nor the holy grail of data driven supply chains, it is one end of a spectrum, and different activities in a supply chain may be best positioned at different locations along that spectrum.


Data Driven Supply Chains


Data and digitalisation are transforming business and societies in general and supply chains in particular. Researchers and industry experts talked about how today’s technology is changing the paradigm.

  • What does supply chain transparency really mean?
  • How can artificial intelligence be implemented in supply chain?
  • What are the limits of AI and shall it be regulated?
  • What does digitalisation mean for your operations and execution of workflows?
  • How can you improve your operations using casual information?

Meet our Speakers

Alexis Bateman, Director, MIT Sustainable Supply Chains
Robert Boute, Professor of Operations Management at Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven
Mario Grotz
Mario Grotz, Director General Industry, New Technologies and Research, Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy
Bram Kranenburg
Bram Kranenburg, Principal Consultant Data Science and Supply Chain Optimization at CQM
Benny Mantin, Director of LCL, University of Luxembourg
Sarah Van der Auweraer, Postdoctoral Researcher, LCL, University of Luxembourg
Manuel Davy, CEO & Founder, Vekia
Manuel Davy, CEO & Founder, Vekia
Maria Jesus Saenz, Director, MIT Digital Supply Chain Transformation
Maria Jesus Saenz, Director, MIT Digital Supply Chain Transformation
Jens Schiefele, Managing Director Boeing Frankfurt, Director Boeing Product Research & Incubation
Jens Schiefele, Managing Director Boeing Frankfurt, Director Boeing Product Research & Incubation
Francesco Ferrero, Lead Partnership Officer - Mobility, Logistics and Smart Cities at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Francesco Ferrero, Lead Partnership Officer - Mobility, Logistics and Smart Cities at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

Conference Agenda – Click on the title to view and download the presentations

Tuesday 9 March

14:30 Welcome / Opening
14:40 Digital innovation strategy for the development of a trusted and sustainable data-driven economy, with Mario Grotz
15:00 How “digital operations” is changing the way organisations operate and deliver value?, with Prof. Robert Boute
15:25 Forecasting Driven by Causable Factors, with Dr. Sarah Van der Auweraer
15:45 How can Control Towers increase supply chain resilience? A use-case from Luxembourg’s healthcare sector, with Francesco Ferrero
16:00 LSCM 2020-2021 Cohort Thesis Project Poster Video Presentation
16:05 KEYNOTE: Supply Chain Transparency, with Dr. Alexis Bateman
16:35 Adjourn for the first day with takeaways


Wednesday 10 March

14:30 Welcome / Opening
14:35 Human-AI Collective Intelligence in Supply Chains, with Dr. Maria Jesus Saenz
14:45 An application of deep learning in rail maintenance, with Dr. Bram Kranenburg
14:55 The new frontiers of AI for inventory management and planning, with Manuel Davy
15:05 Creating value from AI applications in the aviation industry, with Dr. Jens Schiefele
15:15 Expert Panel Discussion: What value does machine learning bring to supply chain management and logistics? In particular, we want to shed light on whether the benefits of improved pattern recognition and intelligence augmentation offset the cost of data maintenance and model training, which are necessary to sustain these benefits.
16:00 Closing remarks and final takeaways

Announcing the 2021 eXplore favourites

A record number of LCL Master thesis projects in 2021 – 11 total, including 1 academic – spanning myriad industry and service sectors (aviation, construction, railway, food, medical supply chain, pharmaceutical logistics, last-mile delivery, software procurement…) are dynamically portrayed via poster presentations in this video.

The votes are in. We are proud to announce the top three eXplore favourite student posters here. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Would you like to learn more about our past conferences?
2019 eXplore conference summary
2018 eXplore conference summary
2017 eXplore Conference summary


Participants are hereby informed that they are likely to appear on photographs taken at the event. These are intended to be published in University of Luxembourg print and/or digital/social media.

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