Project duration
06.2010 - 05.2013
Project funding
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Agent-based simulation and research of an emergency concept for the protection of sensitive logistics hubs

A secure supply and a frictionless transport of goods and commodities are vital for the society and the economy. Germany as an exporting nation is heavily involved in international commodity chains. Attacks, accidents, natural disasters or criminal activities represent partly known and partly new risk factors. For prevention and protection innovative solutions are needed. Therefore, strategies, processes and technologies are developed in the security research in order to continue to ensure the highest level of security of supply chains. Particular value is placed on the economic efficiency and appropriateness of the solutions.

In face of the changed risks, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) follows the goal to fund research for innovative solutions to secure commodity chains. With the announcement of the topic "Securing the supply chain" within the program "Research for Civil Security” of the Federal Government, comprehensive concepts to secure commodity chains are developed on the basis of a security scenario.

In the logistic infrastructure of Germany, freight villages take on important tasks as a logistics hub in the supply of goods. In a freight village different modes of transport (e.g. road, rail) and actors are brought together and are integrated with each other. Among the actors, there are for example freight forwarders, warehouse operators, service companies and logistics-intensive industrial and commercial establishments. The resulting complexity is raised by increasing flow rates and variety of goods. A case of damage can lead to regional, national and even international production losses and shortages for industry, trade and population.

The underlying security scenario of the project PreparedNET assumes a disturbance of a freight village by terrorist acts as well as general damages by unforeseen incidents. The goal of PreparedNET is to explore an emergency concept to maintain the flow of goods. In case of a serious disturbance, an emergency operation plan should act immediately. A software-based simulation model is developed, based on a so-called multi-agent system. This reflects not only the incident, but also provides a quick, automated decision support for the freight village actors.

In the simulation model specific characteristics and roles for the control and emergency operation will be assigned to the actors in a freight village. In addition, relevant background information will be used, such as infrastructure and storage capacity, inventory levels, organizational structures and problem solving strategies. If there is a failure, for example to a deterioration of the rail mode, the condition will change and adjust it automatically for the freight village. The system allows not only the necessary process adjustments, but also shows recovery measures that are able to compensate the consequences of an incident as quickly as possible. This dynamic reaction concerning supply bottlenecks in freight villages cannot be achieved by current emergency plans which are often inadequate and rigid.

Fright village actors and the fire brigade are involved in the project as end-users. They ensure the consideration of user requirements and a realistic alignment of the research. Through the integration of the Deutsche GVZ-Gesellschaft mbH (DGG), a broad-based mediation result is achieved. In addition, the project develops a training concept for freight village actors and a DIN specification. Thus, the cognisance can be brought to a large group of users beyond PreparedNET.

As a part of the project, the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics develops a demonstrator for agent-based simulation of complex logistics systems to support decision making in emergency situations. Furthermore it develops an emergency and training concept for freight villages.

In addition to the ISL, project partners are the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), the LUB Consulting GmbH, Emons Spedition GmbH, Furtwangen University (HFU) and the GVZ Entwicklungsgesellschaft Bremen mbH. Associated partners are the Deutsche GVZ-Gesellschaft mbH (DGG), the GVZ Entwicklungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH and the Bremen Fire Department. The project executing organisation is the VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH.