The rapid development of information technology creates preconditions and needs for the development of activities related to logistic networks. In March 2001 the Ministry of Transport and Communications Finland decided to start up the VALO programme to increase the information technology know-how on logistics networks. The programme has been divided into three different R&D areas:
- Operability of strategic level logistic processes
Research and development of logistics processes at the strategic level and strategic development of logistic networks. The strategic factors are e.g. planning of product assortment and market areas, establishment and planning of office locations. Strategic factors also include sharing of duties in the co-operation network and outsourcing, development of operations models (e.g. e-business, Efficient Customer Response/ECR, Vendor Manager Inventory/VMI) and systems (management, systems for materials handling and transport) and organisational development.
- Logistic chain management systems
In R&D area 2, the aim is to develop the information management systems related to demand and supply processes in order to increase competitiveness. The supply of logistics network and the activities are being efficiently adapted to market demand. The logistic chain management systems include knowledge and forecast of information on demand and supply, creating open orders (e.g. orders related to suppliers, transport services, purchasing, manufacturing and selling), sharing of actions required by deliveries and timing for offices and activities (planning of goods and service production) as well as management of inventory levels. Also the questions related to data transfer and warehousing and automatic identification and location are included in the logistic chain management systems area.
- Cargo handling and transport systems
The aim in R&D area 3 is to develop cargo handling and transportation techniques and activities related to delivery process. These techniques and activities include manufacturing and/or inventory pick-up, finalising the orders for delivery (goods and documents), customs clearance, consolidation of deliveries and transport arrangements, transportation and terminal handling, reception and check-up of deliveries, handling of returns and claims, after sales services, production support and payment transactions.
VALO aims at increasing the co-operation between logistics service providers and industry. In addition, the programme pursues to activate the academic research of logistics in Finland and intensify the exchange of information and experiences between the logistic networks, industry and academic fields. The project results are, to a certain extent, publicly available.
The objectives of the programme are to:
- produce new products for the international market
- start up new types of logistical services
- improve existing activities
- promote co-operation
- utilise the latest electronic data transfer, processing and interoperability
The VALO programme has a management group consisting of the main funding parties and experts of different companies. The chairman of the programme comes from Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The programme manager is responsible for practical implementation of the programme. Management groups consisting of external experts are used to manage the three R&D areas.
The level for the overall budget is €5 million. The activities are financed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Trade and Industry together with firms and other institutions participating in the projects. Generally, the share of public finance is 1/3 of the project costs.