Food Logistics

NutriSafe – How Simulations Can Facilitate Resilient Food Operations

2020 shows us once again how important resilient operations are for successful supply chains and society in general. Besides COVID-19, supply chains are impacted frequently by disruptions such as extreme weather events, climate change and infrastructure bottlenecks. In this context, the German-Austrian research project NutriSafe focuses on food supply chains. This post provides insight on how simulation is used in this project to foster resilience.

NutriSafe focuses on the development and investigation of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) to improve food supply chains. Simulations are used in various work packages to quantitfy impacts, identify relevant use cases and to aid understanding of interdependencies in food systems.

For example, let’s focus on a domestic pork supply chain impacted by African Swine Fever (ASF). This viral disease results in severe economic losses and potentialy even impacts food security due to drops in production capacities. Consequently, authorities have to react quickly to an outbreak of ASF and identify contagious animals swiftly. To foster such a fast reaction, a hybrid simulation model is currently under development. It is based on business process models identified with various experts in the field to model related production and logistics processes. These are implemented through discrete events in the simulation, while agent-based simulation techniques are used to consider various bahaviors of decision-makers during an ASF outbreak. For more details on the developed simulations in this project, refer to the confernce poster linked in the section below.

By facilitating simulations, one can achieve various benefits to improve resilience of corresponding supply chains. Bottlenecks can be identified and strategies to react to disruptions can be investigated in a flexible and risk free environment. Additionally, simulations are an interesting tool for training activities, e.g., through the integration in serious games. This allows one to foster decision-making skills of the involved actors and to improve understanding of potential supply chain risks. If done well, food supply is secured and supply chains can once again focus on ‘bringing home the bacon’. (pun intended;)

Image Source: BOKU

– NutriSafe Webpage (english / german)
NutriSafe Poster (HHL2020)

About NutriSafe: This research project focuses on securing food production and logistics through the integration of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT). It is a bilateral project, consisting of both a German and Austrian consortium. I was responsible for the project proposal on the Austrian side and I am currently assisting the team in the above-mentioned simulation and decision support system. As a final step, a serious game will be developed to foster decision-making skills, identify bottlenecks and improve understanding of the underlying systems.

We thank the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions, and Tourism for funding the project NutriSafe ( within the security research funding program KIRAS (project number: 867015) as well as the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (FKZ: 13N15070-13N15076) within the civil security research program.

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