Book:The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!/Labs by industry: Part 3/Logistics

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5.4 Logistics

GRUBER Logistics Nachläufer.jpg

Laboratories related to the logistics industry serve several different functions. Academic research laboratories are key to the analysis and development of transportation systems and safety, traffic models, geographic information systems, freight logistics systems, supply chains, and transit systems. Secondarily, private logistics labs may provide third-party analytical services on cargo to verify authenticity and assist in custody transfers. These labs are found in the private and academic sectors, and occasionally in government, providing many different services, including (but not limited to):

  • analysis of cargo for custody transfer[1]
  • analysis of cargo for dispute resolution[1]
  • detection of radiation[2]
  • detection of explosives and evaluation of detection tools[3]
  • development and improvement of material flow management components[4][5]
  • development and improvement of transportation and routing policies[4][5]
  • modeling and analysis of traffic and driving behavior[4][5]
  • analysis of logistics data[4][5]

But how do logistics laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis?

Research-based logistics labs produce laboratorians who, for example, may be knowledgeable in the ways of traffic flow and civil engineering. Those individuals may go on to learn more and provide contributions to the transportation department of a city, state, or even federal entity, finding ways to improve your daily commute to work. Those same laboratorians may also have background and experience with electric and self-driving vehicles, contributing their expertise to the growing infrastructure required to run self-driving vehicles effectively, again improving your commute. Secondarily, logistics laboratories may reduce the changes of dangerous materials such as malicious radioactive materials and explosive devices making their way into the country via port, which is beneficial to dock workers and end users of products.

5.4.1 Client types

Private - Private logistics labs tend to provide analytical testing services of cargo, facilitating custody transfers and providing expertise in legal disputes.

Examples include:

Government - Governments occasionally engage in research into and investigation of logistics issues of a region or country.

Examples include:

Academic - Universities provide laboratory resources to undergraduates and graduates keen to learn more about logistics issues and apply research to real-life problems.

Examples include:

5.4.2 Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, QA/QC, research/design, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? coal and coke, concentrates, fertilizers, food stuffs, land transportation, marine transportation, mass transit systems, petrochemicals, policy and governance, supply chains, traffic, user/driving behavior, vegetable oils, waste water

What sciences are being applied in these labs? chemistry, data science, economics, engineering, logistics, management, mathematics, physics, process optimization, risk management, social science, statistics

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Accelerated stress testing, Cargo inspection and sampling, Climatics, Contamination, Corrosion, Counterfeit detection, Damage tolerance, Dimensional, Drop, Durability, Edge crush, Electromagnetic compatibility, Emissions, Flammability, Flash point, Freight flow, Immersion, Impact, Incline impact, Integrity, Last-mile distribution, Leak, Metallurgical analysis, Permeability, Phytosanitary, Proficiency, Radioactivity, Reliability, Safety, Shear, Shock, Stress corrosion cracking, Tear, Tensile, Thermal, Traffic modeling and analysis, Ultraviolet, Vibration, Weathering

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

autoclave, balance, biohazard container, biosafety cabinet, centrifuge, chromatographic, colorimeter, computer workstations, desiccator, dry bath, fume hood, geographic information system, homogenizer, hotplate, incubator, magnetic stirrer, microcentrifuge tube, microplate reader, microscope, multi-well plate, orbital shaker, personal protective equipment, pH meter, pipettor, powered air purifying respirators, refractometer, simulation software, spectrophotometer, statistics software, syringes, test tube and rack, thermometer, water bath

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the clinical research industry?

A majority of logistics laboratories are dry labs, meaning they're not analyzing "wet" biological samples, applying reagents, etc. Instead, they often heavily rely on software systems to conduct their research and educate new students. However, wet labs do exist in the logistics industry, usually for product and commodity testing of shipments—often petrochemicals—for custody transfer and dispute resolution.[1]

5.4.3 Informatics in the logistics industry

Though slightly dated at this point, an excerpt from the foreword to Luo's Service Science and Logistics Informatics seems relevant here[6]:

As [the] world economy gets increasingly integrated, logistics and supply chain management, through the use of advanced information and service technologies, become critically important. This requirement entails tight alignment of business strategy and judicious use of advanced information technologies. It also necessitates infrastructures for streamlining front-end and back-end management and business processes, and resolution of emerging global integration and interoperability issues.

In supply chain management, prompt reaction to long- and short-term, often abrupt changes in supply networks is critical to the quality of service and sustainability of a logistics business. (This fact has been highlighted extensively with the problems created from the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]) Informatics is being applied in the logistics lab to analyze these changes, integrate information from numerous sources, and provide valuable information towards favorably altering material flow and production. This can be done real-time, or theoretical work can be performed with simulation software.[8] In cargo testing, information management software such as Cargotrader's[9] improve logistics labs' ability to improve compliance control and the analysis process itself. These improvements and others are further perpetuated by standards groups such as the IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Logistics Informatics and Industrial Security Systems[10] and the tangentially related International Conference on Logistics, Informatics and Service Sciences.[11]

5.4.4 LIMSwiki resources and further reading

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Laboratory Services". Certispec Services, Inc. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  2. "Our Facilities - Analytical Laboratories". Savannah River National Laboratory. SRNS Corporate Communications. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  3. "Transportation Security Laboratory". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "HNU Logistics Laboratory". Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "The Laboratory". University of Thessaly, Department of Civil Engineering. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  6. Luo, Z. (2010). Service Science and Logistics Informatics: Innovative Perspectives. IGI Global. p. xvii. 
  7. Alicke, K.; Barriball, E.; Trautwein, V. (23 November 2021). "How COVID-19 is reshaping supply chains". McKinsey & Company. Retrieved 06 July 2022. 
  8. "Logistics Informatics". RISC Software GmbH. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  9. "About". Cargotrader, Inc.. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  10. "Logistics Informatics and Industrial Security Systems". IEEE SMC. IEEE. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  11. "12th International Conference on Logistics, Informatics and Service Sciences (LISS2022)". Beijing Jiatong University. Retrieved 29 June 2022.