About 4flow

Research & innovation

4flow research develops new supply chain methods and processes

4flow research is 4flow’s supply chain innovation lab. In collaboration with renowned research institutes and leading enterprises, we conduct insightful research and evaluate new methods in studies and pilot projects. We regularly publish the results of this work. 4flow research addresses topics in logistics and supply chain management by taking a scientifically based, results-driven approach. Qualitative and quantitative research methods are combined with cross-functional know-how from all 4flow business lines.

Our areas of research

Data science and data ecosystems

The digitization of business processes and technical developments including the Internet of things (IoT), cyber-physical systems and autonomous software agents are driving growing data streams onward.

This opens up new possibilities for increasing efficiency and effectiveness using data-driven planning and management processes. In order for supply chain processes to benefit from data, 4flow research examines data science methods for data analysis and optimization using machine learning. This includes the design and construction of use-case-specific data ecosystems that ensure the necessary data are available in the quality required for each case.

Research projects:


Focus topics from these projects: Data science and supply chain

Resilient and robust supply chains

Everyday risks and unexpected events are still underestimated in supply chains, despite many recent crises. Supply chains are often insufficiently prepared structurally for disruptions to operations. At the same time, the threat of natural catastrophes and human-made disruptions is increasing, making the analysis of risks and their aftereffects an important issue in research today.

The research we do at 4flow in the area of risk management aims to increase the robustness and resilience of supply networks in the face of fluctuations and disruptions. By developing enhanced planning and management processes along with new methods and tools for analysis and optimization, networks can be optimally prepared for exceptional situations.

Research projects:


Optimization algorithms

Processes for mathematical optimization have long been implemented in supply chain. Elements like vehicle routing, container loading or sequence planning offer plenty of optimization challenges with great practical relevance. The demands on supply chain design comprise more than just minimizing costs at a certain service level. The fluctuation of key factors is just as important as environmental sustainability.

4flow research develops new and innovative optimization algorithms for various challenges, for instance in transportation and intralogistics, and in all areas of supply chain management. The aim is to get practical solutions for everyday situations that connect minimal costs with maximum performance and sustainability with the most amount of flexibility. In the process, novel processes are examined, such as the possibility to integrate quantum computing in cooperation with well-known experts.

Research projects:

PROVIDEQ  MultiTrans

Sustainability and decarbonization

Limiting climate change will have a significant influence on supply chains and logistics processes. The supply chain research we conduct at 4flow in the field of green logistics aims to measure the effects that supply chain activities have on the environment, making them more able to be analyzed rationally. At the same time, strategies and measures for improving sustainability or reducing the carbon output of supply chains are tested. The long-term objective is to solidly integrate ecological sustainability into the design and management of supply chains and transportation networks and also to develop new methods of optimizing.

Research projects:

NOLAN  InTerTrans

Focus topics from these projects: Sustainable Transportation

Contact us

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Our partners

Public institutions



From material handling processes to infrastructural measures or energy sources – explore sustainability levers with great potential for a greener warehouse. Read more


4flow trend monitor: Dive into the top 20 trends

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The future of retail supply chains

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Warehouse automation and volatile demand – a strategic fit?

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Shipping, fast and slow – Balancing airfreight and sea freight in volatile manufacturing supply chains

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Wearables, Sensors & Co. – Making digital intralogistics a reality

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Logistics in retail and wholesale – Structures, success factors, and trends - German

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Costs and Benefits of Green Logistics

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How oil prices impact distribution networks for manufacturing and trade – German

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All studies

Are you interested in collaborating on research projects? Are you looking for experts in supply chain and supply chain management with practical experience? Become a research partner.


Become a research partner