Five minutes with Maria Huge-Brodin
...the first professor of Environmental Logistics at LiU, in Sweden, in Europe, and perhaps even the world.
Congratulations, Professor! Are you also the first professor of Environmental Logistics in the world?
“Thanks! Yes, perhaps I am. There are several research groups in logistics around the world that have environmental aspects, but not as consistently as we do. We’ve also been at this since the turn of the century, and today we have some solid research in the field.”
Are there other strong groups?
“Yes. Among them is Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where Alan McKinnon previously worked. He’s now a professor at Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. He’s also been a guest professor here with us, and his research laid part of the foundation for our research agenda. He’s been both an inspiration and a pace-setter. Here in Sweden there’s research into logistics where environmental aspects are included, at both Chalmers and Lund University.”
What’s the difference, then?
“The research agenda in logistics deals with cost, lead times, and environment. With us, the environmental aspects are always included and thoroughly analysed. But since we work with companies, it’s also important to include the financial business perspective. The measures taken within logistics to improve the environment must also be profitable, otherwise they won’t be sustainable over the long term.”
What does a professorship mean for you and your research?
“A great deal. Being given a professorship in a subject I’ve been researching for a long time is of course an acknowledgement. It’s also an indication that Environmental Logistics is a priority area in our university. Obviously, it also gives greater weight to our international applications.”
Do you see the interest in logistics and environmental logistics increasing?
“Absolutely. We’ve recently had major projects granted from both Vinnova and the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation. Linköping University has a strong position in logistics and we’re now also working more and more with the EU.”
How do you see the subject developing?
“Environmental Logistics will become increasingly important both nationally and internationally. My ambition is to cross over more and more boundaries. I’m a qualified engineer, myself, working in a financial department. It’s important for us to work closely with one another and build technology and finance together – something we’re good at here at LiU. Now I’m also conducting research into electric cars and vehicle development. We technicians are often goal-oriented, but here it’s also an issue of studying behaviour. It’s exciting to discover what you’ve already seen, through a new pair of eyes.”
Alongside classical logistics standards such as cost and lead times, the environmental consequences of changes to the logistics system are also analysed. It’s also a question of starting from an environmental perspective, identifying changes, and then evaluating them from a business perspective. Transport involves a burden on the environment, but through design and control of the systems the conditions are created for logistics to be environmentally friendly and simultaneously profitable.
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Last updated: 2017-02-13