Centre for Supply Chain Improvement

The Centre for Supply Chain Improvement is a centre of excellence for operations and supply chain management in advanced research and industry partnerships.

We know the importance of sustainable, lean and agile supply chains and operations to the growth of the economy and to service the needs of industries and consumers. 

Our aims

The centre has three broad focuses: technology innovation, system improvement, and process re-engineering. We look vertically within organisations and their internal operations, and horizontally across their supply chains.

Our research aims to develop theories and provide knowledge that addresses some of the most critical challenges that organisations are currently facing in the design, management and improvement of their supply chains and internal operations.
Our relationship with professional institutes and international societies such as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Society of Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, keeps our thinking relevant, meaningful and clear. It’s not thinking in a bubble; it’s thinking about business. 

Our research

Our members actively publish in top-ranked business, operations, supply chain and logistics journals by commanding research interests and expertise in key areas.

These include:

We explore the most efficient and cost-effective ways to achieve excellence within, and across, supply chains and internal operations through:

The CSCI also founded and currently co-edits the International Journal of Supply Chain and Operations Resilience (Inderscience) and our academic colleagues are Editors-in-Chief, Editors, Associate Editors and/or members of numerous editorial boards of various international journals and members of scientific/technical committees of several international conferences.

An example of our applied research is represented through our leadership in the field of Lean Logistics.

Making logistics leaner

Professor Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Professor in Operations Management and Head of the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement, has been researching a new approach to tackling the inefficiencies of road transportation:

“Traditionally, these practical inefficiencies have been addressed through complex mathematical modelling, operations research-based methods, and simulation.

The aim of my research is to investigate whether lean manufacturing principles, methods and tools (which are commonly employed by manufacturing and service organisations to improve their operations) could be applied to improve logistics and road transport operations.” - Professor Garza-Reyes

Professor Garza-Reyes’ research has had a clear commercial impact. It has so far helped several distribution companies in Mexico, China, India, Thailand and Colombia to significantly reduce their number of routes, distance travelled, excess service time, demand not satisfied, and emission of harmful gases. It has also increased their Transportation Overall Vehicle Effectiveness (TOVE), average number of clients served per route and vehicle capacity utilisation.

“One large Mexican organisation, which transports frozen and refrigerated products, was able to reduce its distribution routes by 27% and distance travelled by 32%.” - Professor Garza-Reyes

Collection of books

Business, Law and Social Sciences academics ranked among most cited researchers

Our research team are in the top 2% of the most highly-cited researchers in the world. They have been featured in the top 160,000 cited researchers out of seven million researchers worldwide.

Find out how our academics rankedFind out how our academics ranked

Impact on teaching and learning

The lean logistics research has led to the recruitment of a number of PhD students, who are undertaking further work in this area under the supervision of Professor Garza-Reyes and Dr Tony Anosike.

In addition, this work is being used as a case study for the master-level module Improving Supply Chain and Logistics Operations of the MSc in Global Operations and Supply Chain Management offered by the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences. Since most of the students taking this module are in employment, they have been able to replicate this application of lean thinking within their own organisations.

International collaboration

The lean logistics research is an international collaboration involving academics from several institutions in the UK and Mexico: University of Derby, University of Warwick, University of the West of England, University of Coventry, Universidad de Monterrey (Mexico), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico), and the Mexican Institute of Transportation.

Prof. Garza-Reyes is leading this collaboration and is supported by the following colleagues at the University of Derby: Dr. Tony Anosike, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, and Dr. Simon Peter Nadeem, Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management. 

External research funding

A measure of our work’s value is in the external funding we’ve secured for projects from:

Our industrial partners include large organisations, such as Toyota, Bombardier, East Midlands Trains, Rolls-Royce, as well as a range of SMEs across different industries: logistics and distribution, warehousing, packaging, manufacturing, software development, sales and service sector.

Research projects

Sustainable development has become a major challenge for governments, companies, and all stakeholders involved. Concerns about the negative impacts of industrial activity on the environment, society, and the economy have led to an international debate about what should be done to tackle these problems.

Emerging economies are reported to be some of the main areas of opportunity to mitigate social inequality, greenhouse emissions, and to foster economic development. Under this context, the objective of this project is to conduct an investigation of the adoption of green technologies and energy sustainability standards in Mexico, considering best practices in the UK.

There is little research documenting these adoptions in the Mexican industrial environment and its benefits to economic development. Thus, the adoption of such technologies and energy sustainability standards are key factors that can foster regional development, help to mitigate social inequalities, and provide a better quality of life.

This is a three years project funded by the British Academy under the Advanced Fellowships scheme and is carried out in collaboration with the Instituto Politécnico Nacional of Mexico.

Food security and water conservation are arguably two of the biggest challenges currently faced by humankind. These have therefore emerged as major concerns for many developed and developing nations. In addition, developing countries are facing challenges linked to economic growth and creating sustainable livelihoods.

In this context, more efficient and environmentally sustainable farming operations can emerge as one of the potential strategies to address these challenges. Addressing inefficiencies, wastes, and excessive consumption of natural resources in farming operations will provide direct benefits to nations, e.g., by reducing crops and food waste, increasing the efficient use of natural resources (i.e., water, energy and land), and reducing CO2 emissions and potential pollution of the environment/land created by the excessive usage of fertilisers. These benefits can ultimately assist farmers in improving the productivity and sustainability of their farming operations, resulting in food security and water conservation. This will consequently aid communities by benefiting socially, economically and environmentally in both the short and long terms.

This research project will bring researchers and industrial experts from the UK and Mexico to a common platform to develop a Smart Monitoring and Control System (SMCS) agro-technology to enable more efficient and sustainable farming operations. The initiative will also provide valuable knowledge and lessons learnt for developers, users and communities regarding the improvement of farming operations and the development, testing, and implementation of agro-technologies in developing countries. The systematisation of these forms a key element of the project to build local research capacity and support policymakers in the formulation of effective policies and/or strategies to facilitate the development of agro-technology.

This is a one-year project funded by the British Council under the Institutional Links scheme and is carried out in collaboration with the College of Science and Engineering of the University of Derby, the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes of Mexico and La Huerta.

As concerns regarding climate change, long-term availability of energy and fuel prices increase, an opportunity exists to explore energy efficiency strategies in two of the most pervasive places where it can be conserved: industrial supply chains and operations.

Mexico has a lot of potential to develop energy efficiency strategies as it is one of the countries exhibiting keen initiatives for sustainable development, but not yet succeeding. This project will provide collaboration between UK and Mexican researchers to share their expertise and jointly explore how supply chain and operations innovation can support organisations in the formulation and implementation of energy efficiency strategies in their supply chain and operations. Reducing industrial energy consumption will help organisations to remain globally competitive and support the government’s national plan for development, resulting in a more equitable society.

This project was funded by Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) under the Researcher Links scheme and was carried out in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes of Mexico.

Modern economic and production systems have helped humankind to survive and develop prosperous economies. They continue to do so, but at a severe price for the environment and societies.

Since the mid-1800s when the Industrial Revolution took place, more natural resources have been destroyed than in all previous history. While our industrial activity has increased providing wealth to societies and economic progress, natural capital on which our civilization depends not only to create economic prosperity but to survive is rapidly declining. In this context, the high-intensive production of goods has led economies to increase consumption and become dependent on fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, sending tons of COemissions to the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, and overall pollution. In this way, reaching equilibrium with the exploitation of natural resources, social equity, and economic progress has become a major challenge for governments, companies, and all stakeholders involved.

Business Excellence Models (BEMs) seek efficiency and effectiveness in operations for any company and organisation by using managerial models, process improvement methods, and tools that help to sustain efficient operations and production systems. Several BEMs such as the Baldrige model, the European Foundation Quality Management model, the British Excellence Award (UK), and the National Competitiveness model (Mexico) have provided helpful guideless for companies (large and small), hospitals, and universities.

On the other hand, the context in which companies and organisations operate is important for the competitiveness and sustainability of an economy and 'innovation systems' represent an opportunity for a region to facilitate a sustainable transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Such innovation systems can help our industries become efficient and use natural resources more rationally. In addition, adopting new technologies at an industrial and societal level can help reduce CO2 emissions, and in the medium and long term achieve a low carbon economy.  In this way, the transition to a low-carbon economy depends on several factors that must be integrated into the full economic system with a triple bottom-line perspective (economic, environmental and societal).

This project aimed at exploring whether (and how) business excellence and innovation systems concepts, models and approaches can support societies, governments and organisations, either in an individual or integrated form, in the transition towards a low carbon-based economy.

This project was funded by the British Council under the Researcher Links scheme and was carried out in collaboration with the Instituto Politécnico Nacional of Mexico. 

Join us

We offer PhD, DProf, DBA and MPhil degrees to undertake research projects in the broad, but not limited, areas listed below. We also welcome visiting scholars to join us to exchange knowledge and research findings in these areas:

To discuss your ideas, email Prof. Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Head of the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement, at J.Reyes@derby.ac.uk.