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Development and Testing of Innovative Non-Invasive Container Screening Methods in the Supply Chain Defense Lab

This project will develop and test innovative, non-invasive container screening methods in the new Supply Chain Defense Lab (SCDLab). The SCDLab research partnership brings the Urban Freight Lab’s deep logistics expertise, global supply chain companies such as SSA Marine and Expeditors International of Washington, together with the UW Center for Conservation Biology Forensic and Detection Dog Programs to solve global supply chain security problems that are priorities for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) which is providing 10 years of research funding to Texas A&M University to lead a consortium of U.S. academic institutions—including UFL and Conservation Biology—in a new national Center of Excellence (COE) for Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense (CBTS). S&T will provide CBTS with a $3.85 million grant for its first operating year in 2019.

The initial research project will develop and test the effectiveness and efficiency of rapid-throughput canine detection methods and protocols to search containers for biologic contraband at the port.

As a hub of international commerce, Washington State provides an excellent environment to launch this project. The NW Seaport Alliance (Ports of Seattle and Tacoma) manages the nation’s third largest container port operation. In addition to serving as a global maritime gateway for goods entering the U.S, Washington State has high-volume border crossings that connect NW Washington and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, collectively known as the Cascade Gateway. The Gateway is among the busiest and most economically important along the entire northern border. Once in transit, illegal and counterfeit goods, and goods potentially introducing biological threats and vectors for disease, are easily concealed because of the scale of global supply chains. Some of the world’s most endangered species, forests and marine ecosystems are being targeted by transnational criminal organizations, with serious impacts on national and local economies, ecology, global health, and political stability around the world.

In the Media

Article, Special Issue

Urban Logistics: From Research to Implementation

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Publication: Research in Transportation Business & Management (RTBM)
Volume: 45 (A)
Publication Date: 2022

To address the accessibility and sustainability challenges of urban logistics it is important to consider urban logistics from a number of perspectives.

This includes considering:

  • spatial context i.e. not focusing solely on the urban center or core but also in terms of actions taken in broader logistics and supply chain management.
  • stakeholders i.e. including all key decision makers and constituents.
  • complexity and heterogeneity of activities (range of vehicles used, the products carried, location of distribution centers, and the variety found in city size, form, and governance).

This diversity of perspectives, and their influence on the urban freight system, makes it challenging to identify simple solutions to problems.

A number of forces are also at work impacting change in the urban logistics system. Technological innovation affecting urban logistics includes digitalization, e.g. the Internet of Things (important in terms of connected objects) and big data. These developments are already established and beginning to have an impact or at least implications in the field of urban logistics and freight transport. However, problems will not be solved by technology alone and it is essential to understand how behavior (at the individual and corporate level) influences outcomes and needs to change. Research needs to address interactions between stakeholders and the role of city authorities in promoting innovation and change.

Cities are complex environments and urban logistics has to adapt to these demands. The complexity of cities also gives rise to a debate about the extent to which problems (and their possible solutions) may be considered context-specific. This leads to questions relating to how initiatives should be scaled up to gain greater traction in dealing with challenges now and in the future. It is important to learn as much as possible from the high number of projects and new services that have been implemented in cities over the past ten years. These range from initiatives related to electric vehicles, through locker box systems and the role of the receiver in making change happen. How to learn and then apply the lessons from projects is an important question. In many cases it has been argued that the underlying business model has not been addressed successfully leading to the problem of projects lasting only as long as some form of project funding is available.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Michael Browne (University of Gothenburg)
Recommended Citation:
Michael Browne, Anne Goodchild. Urban Logistics: From Research to Implementation, Research in Transportation Business & Management, Volume 45 (A) 2022, 100913, ISSN 2210-5395,
Technical Report

Improving Food Rescue in Seattle: What Can Be Learned from a Supply Chain View?

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Publication Date: 2020

Seattle is one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, presenting both opportunities and challenges for food waste. An estimated 94,500 tons of food from Seattle businesses end up in compost bins or landfills each year—some of it edible food that simply never got sold at restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, schools or dining facilities. Meantime, members of our community remain food insecure. It makes sense for food to feed people rather than become waste.

This is why Seattle Public Utilities continues to support efforts toward food rescue, where edible food that would otherwise enter the waste stream is gleaned from local businesses and re-distributed to local food programs. SPU has joined other cities, states, and regional coalitions in committing to cutting food waste by 50 percent from 2015 by 2030, leading with prevention and rescue.

Since 2018, SPU has engaged more than 80 stakeholders from 50-plus organizations in a Food Rescue Innovation Initiative—a collaborative effort to better understand food rescue challenges and explore potential solutions. The initiative surfaced transportation and logistics as one of the key challenges.

To that end, SPU asked the University of Washington Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center (SCTL) to conduct foundational research into the logistics of food rescue in Seattle. This research forms part of SPU’s broader work to identify barriers to making food rescue operations in Seattle as effective and efficient as possible—and work toward solutions to overcome those barriers with both the private and public sector. The SCTL research includes interviews with a representative cross-section of food suppliers, food bank agencies, meal program providers and nonprofit partners.

With this document, SPU seeks to inform the myriad businesses that donate food (and by doing so, reduce their waste costs); the wide range of nonprofit hunger relief partners who collect and redistribute donated food to community members in need; local government; and locally based companies with supply chain logistics expertise that could contribute solutions to this complex puzzle.


Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2020). Improving Food Rescue in Seattle: What Can Be Learned from a Supply Chain View?

Demand-Driven Supply Chain Meets Offshoring: Looking to go offshore, or improve your current offshore operations? A demand-driven supply chain strategy may be the answer. Here’s how to build one.

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Publication: Supply Chain Management Review
Volume: 11
Publication Date: 2007

Looking to go offshore, or improve your current offshore operations? A demand-driven supply chain strategy may be the answer. Here’s how to build one.

“I’d like the filet mignon—please make that well done, but juicy!” As anyone who’s ever waited tables knows, sometimes the requests you get are just unrealistic. But is this particular customer’s order any less realistic than the CEO announcing: “I’d like to move all production to China, but without increasing inventory or affecting service levels!”

Fortunately, we as operations managers have more tools at our disposal to respond to the CEO’s request that the waiter has to that diner. This column addresses those options. We assume that you have weighed the impact on your total cost to serve and ability to meet your customer demands, and have determined that off-shore sourcing and/or manufacturing is your best option. Our goal here is to help you improve that performance, especially as the speed of market change continually increases, and customer demands intensify. Simply put, we believe that the key to success in the global arena lies in two critical activities: (1) improving the demand signal and (2) decreasing the response time.

Authors: Bill Keough, Mike Ledyard
Recommended Citation:
Keough, Bill. Lee, H. (2007). Demand-driven supply chain meets offshoring. Supply Chain Management Review, 11. 
Technical Report

Characterizing Washington State’s Supply Chains

Publication: Transportation Northwest Regional Center X (TransNow)
Publication Date: 2012

The University of Washington (UW), Washington State University (WSU), and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently developed a multi-modal statewide geographic information system (GIS) model that can help the state prioritize strategies that protect industries most vulnerable to disruptions, supporting economic activity in the state and increasing economic resilience. The proposed research was identified after that project as an important step in improving the model’s ability to measure the impact of disruptions. In addition to developing the model, the researchers developed two case studies showing the model’s capabilities: the potato growing and processing industry was chosen as a representative agricultural sector and diesel fuel distribution for its importance to all industry sectors. As origin-destination data for other freight-dependent sectors is added to the model, WSDOT will be able to evaluate the impact of freight system disruptions on each of them. Moving forward, it is not cost-effective to develop case studies in the manner used for these case studies, therefore, the state is currently supporting activities at the national level that will provide methods for collecting statewide commodity flow data. However, this commodity flow data will still lack important operational detail necessary to understand the impacts of transportation changes. This research will begin to fill that gap by developing a transportation-based categorization of logistics chains. The goal is not to capture all of the complexity of supply chain logistics but to identify approximately 15-20 categories within which supply chains behave similarly from a transportation perspective, for example, in their level of scheduling and methods for route selection. Researchers will use existing publicly available data, conduct an operational survey, and analyze GPS data collected for WSDOT’s freight performance measures project to identify the categorization.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Andrea Gagliano, Maura Rowell
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., Gagliano, A., & Rowell, M. (2012). Characterizing Washington State’s Supply Chains (No. TNW2012-13).
Technical Report

Characterizing Oregon’s Supply Chains

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Publication: Oregon Dept. of Transportation, Research Section
Publication Date: 2013

In many regions throughout the world, freight models are used to aid infrastructure investment and policy decisions. Since freight is such an integral part of efficient supply chains, more realistic transportation models can be of greater assistance. Transportation models in general have been moving away from the traditional four-step model into activity-based and supply chain-based models. Personal transportation models take into consideration household demographics and why families travel. Freight research has yet to fully identify the relationships between truck movements and company characteristics, so most freight models use the methodology of personal transportation models, despite situational differences.

In an effort to classify freight companies into groupings with differentiated travel movements, a survey of licensed motor carriers was designed and conducted in Oregon. The survey consisted of 33 questions. Respondents were asked about their vehicle fleets, locations served, times traveled, types of deliveries, and commodities. An analysis of the data revealed clusters of company types that can be distinguished by determining characteristics such as their role in a supply chain, facilities operated, commodity type, and vehicle types. An assessment of how the relationships found can be integrated into state models is also presented.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Andrea Gagliano, Maura Rowell
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne. A. Gagiliano and M. Rowell. 2013. "Characterizing Oregon's Supply Chains." Final Report SPR 739. Oregon Department of Transportation: Research Section and Federal Highway Administration, Salem, OR.

Examining Carrier Categorization in Freight Models

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Publication: Research in Transportation Business & Management
Volume: 11
Pages: 116-122
Publication Date: 2014

Travel demand models are used to aid infrastructure investment and transportation policy decisions. Unfortunately, these models were built primarily to reflect passenger travel and most models in use by public agencies have poorly developed freight components. Freight transportation is an important piece of regional planning, so regional models should be improved to more accurately capture freight traffic. Freight research has yet to fully identify the relationships between truck movements and company characteristics in a manner sufficient to model freight travel behavior. Through analyzing the results of a survey, this paper sheds light on the important transportation characteristics that should be included in freight travel demand models and classifies carriers based on their role in the supply chain. The survey of licensed motor carriers included 33 questions and was conducted in Oregon and Washington. Respondents were asked about their vehicle fleets, locations served, times traveled, time windows, types of deliveries, and commodities. An assessment of how the relationships found can be integrated into existing models is offered.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Maura Rowell, Andrea Gagliano
Recommended Citation:
Rowell, Maura, Andrea Gagliano, and Anne Goodchild. Examining Carrier Categorization in Freight Models. Research in Transportation Business & Management 11 (2014): 116-122.