Call for papers - Special issue

Call for papers-Special issue

1. International Journal of Production Economics

Digital Twin and Data-driven Optimization for Hyperconnected Physical Internet

On Singles' Day 2019, Alibaba seals $38.4 billion new sales record (TechCrunch 2019). Millions of parcels were handled and delivered within a short time. It is a critical issue to improve by an order of magnitude the economical, environmental and societal efficiency and sustainability of the way physical freight are operated (Qiu, Luo et al. 2015). By analogizing to Internet, Physical Internet (PI) is defined as a hyperconnected global logistics system enabling seamless open asset sharing and flow consolidation through standardized encapsulation, modularization, protocols and interfaces (Mervis 2014; Ballot, Montreuil, and Meller 2014). Several key scientific topics of Physical Internet have already been studied in a growing body of literature (Sternberg and Norrman, 2017; Pan, Ballot, Huang and Montreuil, 2017). Whereas, most of the previous studies are still limited to conceptual model verification. Large-scale industry-wide PI applications and deployments are also very few. It still has many key research questions to discuss, such as what the economic value and feasibility of PI technologies for the large-scale deployment is; and how should we quantitatively evaluate PI platform innovations, with which methods (Joshi and Gupta 2019; Almohri, Chinnam, and Colosimo 2019).
Everything in the future physical world would be replicated in the digital space. Digital Twin (DT) is one of key driving forces for hyperconnected physical internet. DT can project physical assets or processes into the digital world to reflect the whole lifecycle process (e.g., design, production, operation and maintenance) of the corresponding counterpart (Tao and Qi, 2019). For example, based on DT technologies, the large amounts of data that result from online ecommerce and offline fulfilments can be mined, modelled and analysed for data-driven optimization (Ivanov, Dolgui, Das, and Sokolov 2019). We also consider DT technology as a combination of Cyber Physical System, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced tracking and tracing technologies, Wearables, Additive Manufacturing and etc (Kong, Luo, Huang and Yang, 2018).
The successful deployment of hyperconnected physical internet would rely on integrating the objectives of both technology and management. But much of the DT technology and data-driven literature has been largely disjointed without much emphasis on novel scientific contribution. Interdisciplinary researches are also needed to build up new theories that examines the interplay between digital twin and data driven. This special issue addresses this void by specifically encouraging research that provides insight into digital twin and data-driven interface for significant theoretical breakthroughs. The SI accepts scientific contribution based on data-driven methods and rigorous sound theory. We welcome a wide variety of topics spanning multiple industries. We are also looking for papers that will not only address contemporary PI challenges in novel ways, but will serve as exemplars for conducting research in future.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
• Digital supply chain twins and Physical Internet
• Economic valuation methods of PI/DT platform innovations
• DT/PI-enabled smart manufacturing
• DT/PI-enabled sustainable supply chain
• DT/PI-enabled hyperconnected and urban logistics
• DT/PI-enabled hyperconnected and omnichannel supply chains
• Economic and statistical contributions that are relevant to Physical Internet
• Data-driven optimization approaches to address practical challenges in Physical Internet
• Impact of DT/PI-enabled visibility, traceability and optimization on industrial economics
• Case study for large-scale industry-wide physical internet deployment
• Application of artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data analytics in Physical Internet
Manuscript preparation and submission
Before submission, authors should carefully read over the journal's "Instructions for Authors". The review process will follow the journal's practice. Papers submitted to the Special Issue will be subjected to normal thorough double-blind review process. Prospective authors should clarify on methodology used in the submitted papers, and submit an electronic copy of their complete manuscript via the EES according to the following timetable:
• Close submission of manuscript on 30 November 2020
• Completion of the first-round review on 28 February 2021
• Completion of the second-round review on 31 May 2021

For any queries please contact the Guest Editors (alphabetical order)

Eric Ballot (Professor)
MINES ParisTech, PSL Research University, CGS – Centre de Gestion Scientifique, i3 UMR CNRS 9217, Paris, France. E-mail:

George Q. Huang (Professor, managing GE)
HKU-ZIRI Lab for Physical Internet, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. E-mail:

Benoit Montreuil (Professor)
Physical Internet Center, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. E-mail:

Hao Luo (Associate Professor)
Department of Transportation Economics and Logistics Management, College of Economics Shenzhen University, China. E-mail:

Xiang T.R. Kong (Assistant Professor)
Department of Transportation Economics and Logistics Management, College of Economics Shenzhen University, China. E-mail:


2.  Industrial Management & Data Systems

Towards Large-scale Industry-wide Physical Internet Deployment

Guest Editors: 
Hao Luo
Shenzhen University
Shenle Pan
MINES ParisTech
Xiang T.R. Kong
Shenzhen University

Overview of Special Issue 
Innovations in digital technologies (DT) influence the development of new paradigms, principles, and models in PI. Everything in the future physical world would be replicated in the digital space through advanced techniques, and across various industrial sectors, including aerospace, electric power, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare and medicine, logistics and supply chain, etc (Kong et al. 2018). Moreover, with the rapid development of ecommerce in China and advance of DT technologies, industry has already exploited the low hanging fruits based on the prototype of PI logistics networks. As a typical example, CAINIAO and JD Logistics have dealt with over 400 million parcels based on an open large-scale asset-shared service network in Single Day 2018 (CNBC 2018). The large amounts of data that result from online ecommerce and offline handlings can be mined, modelled and analysed (Xhafa, 2016). It is hence critical to develop interdisciplinary researches that addresses the large-scale industry-wide PI applications and deployments for major original theories building. This Special Issue addresses this void by specifically encouraging research that provides insight into Physical Internet deployment in real-life industrial frontiers.

Indicative List of Anticipated Themes
We welcome submissions to this special issue. Topics covered include (but are not limited to):
• Interplay between innovative digital technologies and physical internet deployment using Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data, Industry 4.0, 5G technology and etc.;
• Potentialities and uses of data-driven systems and mechanism to improve Physical Internet performance;
• Impact of Digital Twin-enabled simulation and optimization on Physical Internet deployment;
• Sustainable Physical Internet;
• PI-enabled hyperconnected manufacturing;
• PI-enabled hyperconnected omnichannel supply chain;
• Application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in Physical Internet deployment;
• Economic and statistical contributions that are relevant to Physical Internet deployment;
• Case study of large-scale industry-wide physical internet;

Deadline and Submission Details
The submission deadline for all papers is: 31st October 2020
To submit your research, please visit:

To view the author guidelines for this journal, please visit:


3. Sustainability

ICT and Sustainable Freight Logistics

Special Issue Information 

The increased demand for the distribution of goods and services, and solutions to the disbenefits generated, is an emergent field of both action and research. This trend is forecast to continue its growth throughout the 21st century, due to increasing urbanisation, income growth, and fragmentation of supply chains. Urbanisation is rising globally, with Europe the most urbanised continent. At the same time, a fragmentation of logistics at the last mile of delivery can be seen, both globally and locally, as smaller vehicles deliver smaller consignments of lower value, higher density goods. The causes are extremely complex and not yet fully understood, but probably include rising home deliveries, a boom in on-line shopping, independent retailers in urban cores, city regulations around time, vehicle size or type, reduction of shop storage, adoption of just in time principles, and replacement of working capital with transport response. This fragmentation generates challenges to all three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental—also known as ‘people, planet and profit’ or the ‘triple bottom line’.

At a policy and practical level, multiple forms of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been promoted, trialled, piloted, and deployed, to optimise freight logistics. In addition to not always addressing all three pillars, these often manifest subsidiary effects, perhaps with undisclosed benefits and disbenefits. The opportunity to optimise load utilisation through systems such as horizontal co-operation, vertically integrated top-down hierarchies, crowd sourcing, and dynamic freight brokerage has been noted, and a radical remodelling of logistics as a ‘Physical Internet’—mirroring the TCP/IP networks of the internet—has been proposed. The release of additional capacity on networks, through the use of ‘soft infrastructure’ enhancements such as ERTMS on rail, RIS and MIS on rivers and seas, and ITS on road, has offered greater asset utilisation. ICT has also been key in the monitoring, analysis, and modelling of the emission impacts of freight vehicles. As a platform for both the communication and information aspects of ICT, the vehicle itself is now becoming a key platform within the Internet of Things on road, rail, and water.

This call is for both mono- and mixed methods research, from the broadest spectrum, given that freight logistics is an area of human endeavour that is touched upon by a wide range of academic disciplines. Papers may adopt inductive, deductive, or abductive reasoning, and outcomes can vary from theory, methodology, policy development, or case studies that are internally self-consistent. It is, however, incumbent on the author to state clearly the research philosophy and paradigms adopted, so that they can be reviewed consistently within the stated approaches.

All papers should add to the body of knowledge on how past, present, or future ICT and freight logistics can interact to improve or deteriorate the sustainability of freight logistics with regard to one, two, or all three pillars stated above.

Guest Editors:

Dr. Thomas H Zunder

Newcastle Centre for Rail Research, Newcastle University, Stephenson Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
Interests: Tom is both a knowledgeable academic and a skilled commercial manager. For 16 years he managed purchasing, production control, distribution, and the overall supply chain in the manufacturing industry and, since 2002, has pursued an academic career. Tom is currently a Principal Research Associate, managing the Freight and Logistics research of the Future Mobility Group (formerly NewRail) at Newcastle University. He tends to hold a pragmatist position on research philosophy; approaches considered most interesting include Delphi surveys, CBA, gap analyses, environmental impact assessment, market research, mixed methods research, action research, and systems thinking. The areas of knowledge and practical expertise upon which he currently focuses, often in conjunction and holistically, are rail freight, city logistics, ICT/ITS & freight logistics, and sustainable procurement.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.


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