Food chains modelling and optimisation

Lead University: University of Birmingham

Professor Peter Fryer, Professor Serafim Bakalis, Alberto Almena, Dr Estefania Lopez-Quiroga

Collaboration: The University of Manchester

Professor Kostas Theodoropoulos, Dr Liliana Angeles Martinez


We belong to the era of globalization. Over the past century, the tendency of the industry evolved from small manufacturers spread over cities or villages, to centralized production processes, taking advantage of the economy of scale by lowing the production costs down in the manufacturing process of a good. However, a contrasting method is under study, defined as a comeback to small artisan production well distributed that could bring advantages in terms of society benefits, quality improve, environmental impact and, why not, economical as well. This is call distributed manufacturing and it has been proved recently in several industries, such as automotive industry, with promising results.

The objective of this project is to use the Process System Engineering methodology for developing a mathematical model that can be able to design, analyse the viability and optimize a distribute manufacturing supply chain network for the food processing industry.

The starting point is the assessment of some specific case studies, e.g. the production of baby food. First, the manufacturing process is built and optimized. Then, different production scales, such as home made, catering and plant production are evaluate. After that, the supply chain for these scales is defined and optimized, aimed to a distributive manufacturing.

The final purpose of the project is to develop one general model able to be used as a tool that can be applied to every type of food product.

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