July 03, 2024
In the Media

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL)has commissioned a new research lab to investigate high-impact applications of new data-driven technologies in the logistics industry. The formation of the lab was supported by seed funding from the intralogistics group Mecalux. Specifically, the Intelligent Logistics Systems Labat MIT CTL will explore the potential of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the future of logistics operations and goods transportation.

This will be the starting point for a future research collaboration between MIT CTL and Mecalux, combining the academic knowledge of the leading US technology university with the hands-on experience of a multinational company with more than 55 years of history. Mecalux intends to provide technical insights and support from its software and automation experts over the next few years.

The new lab will examine several research streams that may lead to new state-of-the-art approaches to address some of the industry’s most complex challenges. For instance, the lab will investigate cutting edge methods and tools that are capable of producing highly accurate near-term predictions at a high spatial and temporal resolution. Such near-term predictive capabilities are critical in enabling same-day or sub-same-day delivery and similar services designed to meet the increasingly challenging needs of both consumers and commercial customers.

This innovation space will be led by Dr. Matthias Winkenbach, director of Research at MIT CTL. “We want to support the application of new AI- and machine-learning-based technologies to tackle the most impactful real-world challenges faced by companies and society,” said Winkenbach.

Technology for operational excellence

The activities of the new research lab at MIT CTL—founded with support from Mecalux—will enable the entire industry to design supply chains and logistics systems that provide state-of-the-art customer service and set new standards in terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness. “Operational excellence relies on the seamless integration of autonomous technology into warehouse processes. AI and machine learning can be crucial in planning and monitoring these resources,” said Javier Carrillo, CEO of warehouse technology company Mecalux.

The Intelligent Logistics Systems Lab at MIT CTL will also study the role of new technologies in controlling autonomous transportation and delivery systems and in automating processes such as picking, sorting, packing and shipping orders from warehouses or stores.

Another area of research will be the development of hybrid methods at the intersection of operations research (OR) and ML. The goal will be to solve the increasingly complex and multi-faceted combinatorial optimization problems that are crucial for the success of the logistics industry, including vehicle routing, inventory planning, network design, transportation planning and related issues.