The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently introduced the Transportation and Logistics Collaborative (TLC), a collaboration meant to bolster the understanding of how transportation systems, policies and industry interact in the United States and around the world. The TLC is an initiative of the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI), housed in UT’s Haslam College of Business Department of Supply Chain Management, and will work closely with the Center for Transportation Research
“The collaborative honors the rich, 80-year history of our department’s teaching and research in transportation,” said John Bell, supply chain management department head and TLC founding member. “We’ve trained generations of transportation and logistics professionals, many of whom have gone on to enjoy long and distinguished careers in transportation management, warehousing, distribution and materials handling.”
Building on Haslam’s Supply Chain Legacy
UT’s renowned supply chain programs, which rank among the best in North America, span the scope of the discipline, from purchasing to manufacturing and planning to distribution. The department’s roots in transportation go back decades, even as it evolved from transportation economics to logistics management before its current focus on end-to-end supply chain management.
At least eight full-time supply chain faculty, who specialize in distinct areas of transportation and distribution, will initially steer the collaborative. Together, they represent decades of high-level service with major organizations and institutions in the industry. They have combined expertise in various aspects of the industry, such as transportation policy, sustainability and transportation safety, international logistics, transportation analysis and last-mile delivery.
“Each person in the collaborative is a subject matter expert,” Bell said. “Establishing the TLC organizes our efforts, synergizing the work happening in mobility and transportation across the university and providing the practical, rigorous and relevant research that is the standard for our department.”
Generating Progress in Transportation
The TLC focuses on how certain systems and policies — such as designing and developing better transportation systems, as well as the economic impact of transportation policy — affect business operations and performance. TLC’s work will be especially meaningful for many transportation carriers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), transportation brokers and technology companies that partner with GSCI, such as Averitt Express, Axle Logistics, FedEx, Gnosis and Norfolk Southern.
Efficient and effective logistics is a key to sustained economic growth, both domestically and abroad. At the same time, reducing transportation and logistics costs requires technological innovation, the development of new knowledge and skills to enhance worker productivity and the cooperation of stakeholders.
“You cannot have progress in transportation without considering the implications for businesses,” Bell said. “In supply chain, we represent the perspective of trucking, railroads and airlines moving cargo throughout the transportation networks, so they operate safely, sustainably and profitably.”
Members of the TLC have already advised the Tennessee Governor’s Office on infrastructure improvements, presenting a report to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Business Leadership Council in 2022. They are also gathering data and information in collaboration with the American Ground Transportation Association (AGTA) to provide new insights for improving ground transportation in and around the nation’s airports.
The TLC will work closely with the CTR and Baker School to pursue transportation-focused grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, the State of Tennessee and other funding organizations. In line with UT’s continued focus on mobility, the collaborative will seek opportunities to improve knowledge of how to transport people and cargo more effectively and efficiently through transportation networks in ways that allow businesses in the industry to flourish.
The TLC is a sister collaborative to the Advanced Supply Chain Collaborative (ASCC), headed by Stank. ASCC was established in 2019 and serves as a collaborative think tank, partnering UT faculty with industry professionals to explore advanced concepts in the discipline. Its members include Amazon, Bush Brothers, Pfizer, Schneider Electric and WestRock.
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