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The delivery service of tomorrow

MSc Operations Management students achieve second place in the 4flow-Challenge

By Katrin Reil

40 teams, three weeks, one challenge: At the 4flow-Challenge organised by the management consultancy of the same name, a team of students from MSc Operations Management demonstrated a new approach to how home food deliveries could be even more customer-oriented in the future – and achieved an excellent second place. 

What can home food delivery of tomorrow look like? The task of this year’s 4flow-Challenge was initially presented as part of a kick-off event. Then the participating teams worked on the case study with the help of a mentor and developed a concept for a three-year pilot project. At the final event – which this year took place virtually due to exceptional circumstances – the four best teams from Germany as well as one team each from the USA and China had the opportunity to present their solutions.

Pablo Friese, Philipp Krohn, Jo Sieber and Jan Wezel from MSc Operations Management at ESB Business School gladly took up the challenge. “This year’s topic for the 4flow Challenge, urban logistics, is currently being rethought worldwide and driven forward by science and practice. Accordingly, we were highly motivated to contribute our ideas and to develop innovative concepts“, Philipp Krohn explains.

For its idea, the team used industrial principles such as Kanban and transferred them to the logistics of the ‘last mile‘ in a city on the basis of data-driven algorithms. “The current situation put all of us even more to the test when working on the 4flow-Challenge. I really enjoyed working out a realistic and promising food delivery concept in this competitive, albeit spatially separated environment”, says Jan Wezel.  The students also received support from Professor Dr Wolfgang Echelmeyer, who advised the team with his experience and knowledge.  

The jury of the 4-flow Challenge was convinced by the approach of the ESB team, which also included factors such as dimensioning, project planning and profitability calculations, and awarded them second place with  €2,000 prize money for the students and  €1,000 for Reutlingen University. At the parallel A1 Business Game, the delegation even managed to achieve first place.

The students are also richer in experience after having participated in the 4flow-Challenge, says Pablo Friese: “We were able to gain a deep insight into the work and life as management consultants.  There was also no shortage of exchange with the other teams – I especially found the discussions with the teams from China and the USA very exciting”. Jo Sieber adds: “The open and friendly nature of the mentor and the organisers created an ideal atmosphere in the final. Any student who is interested in logistical relationships and in the development of different supply chain concepts should look out for and participate in activities like the 4flow-Challenge!“