Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Noble represents U.S. at international logistics conference

Jim Noble and John van den Heuvel seated at a table for coffee. They are smiling at the camera with the Port of Rotterdam shown through the window behind them.

James S. Noble, a professor in MU’s Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department and MU site director for the National Science Foundation Industry/University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC) Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution (CELDi) enjoys coffee with John van den Heuvel, the science and technology adviser for the Netherlands Office for Science & Technology (NOST) and Noble’s host for the conference, during their tour of the Port of Rotterdam.

When the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Netherlands Offices for Science and Technology invited 12 speakers from 10 different countries for a logistics conference, one of the University of Missouri’s own was on the list.

James S. Noble, a professor in MU’s Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department and MU site director for the National Science Foundation Industry/University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC) Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution (CELDi), was an invited speaker at the “Global Challenges in Smart Logistics” Conference in November in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The conference’s organizers contacted CELDi, interested in more information about the organization and potential collaboration. MU is one of six research university partners in CELDi, and Noble was selected to represent them at the conference.

His presentation focused on the work and partnerships of CELDi and its mission to enable “member organizations to achieve logistics and distribution excellence by delivering meaningful, innovative and implementable solutions that provide a return on investment.” The MU CELDi site’s corporate members have included the Boeing Co., Bayer HealthCare, Ameren, Leggett & Platt, Hallmark , Inc. and the Missouri Department of Transportation, among many others.

“It was an honor, and it was a great experience to be able to interact with people involved in logistics research from different countries,” Noble said.

Noble said roughly two-thirds of his presentation were spent on the mission and work of CELDi, while the rest focused on an overview of the project done by the MU CELDi team  that examined reverse logistics network design for Boeing.

Most in attendance, Noble said, were intrigued by the way CELDi funding was set up — mainly money from companies alongside some government funding.

“We’re really an industry-funded organization, and they found that very intriguing because that’s not a model that they’ve been able to implement in the EU,” he added.

The Port of Rotterdam

Noble visited the Port of Rotterdam while in the Netherlands.

The fascination worked both ways. Presentations from Germany, India and the Netherlands were among those that Noble said caught his attention. But perhaps nothing made a bigger impression than his tour of the Port of Rotterdam, which is Europe’s largest port at a length of approximately 26 miles and the third busiest port in the world. It serves as a fine example of the Netherlands’ standing as one of Europe’s foremost nations in terms of logistics.

“I’ve always been interested in port operations. [Rotterdam’s] is very impressive in both its size and scope. It’s an inlet from the ocean with port facilities all along it and back in, and they’ve built out into the ocean into the North Sea additional space for their port operations,” he said.

“It is an amazing intermodal operation. They’re using trains and trucks and even barges to move cargo. And their barge network in Europe — they take off to Germany and France and pretty much across Europe using the barge network.”

The trip to the Netherlands wasn’t the first European journey for Noble, but what set this particular conference apart from others he’s attended in Europe was the truly global perspective it provided.

“This was more international, and even though it was a small, focused conference, getting the perspectives of the different countries was very valuable and laid the foundation for some new research collaborations,” Noble said.