Business & Economy

UWF supply chain logistics students create innovations with 3D technology

The supply chain logistics management program offered by the University of West Florida College of Business provides students with the core knowledge to manage and market logistics and supply chain. UWF launched the B.S.B.A. degree program in 2015 in response to student and workforce demand.

A group of four UWF College of Business Supply Chain Logistics Management students standing behind their projects created in the Sea3D lab.

In the field of supply chain logistics management, warehouse and terminal managers oversee the operations of distribution centers and intermodal terminals that move finished goods and raw materials using ships, trucks, rail cars and air freighters across the country.

As the industry continues to grow, UWF is matching trends by finding ways to expose students to innovative ways to improve supply chains. One of the courses within the degree program, a warehousing and terminal management class, provided students with the opportunity to work with UWF’s Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory in downtown Pensacola, where they were able to design and print 3D models of an innovation pertaining to warehousing and terminal management.

“When we talk about warehousing and terminal management, many people picture the scene at the end of the Indiana Jones movie, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ where there are stacks of boxes everywhere,” said Dr. Scott Keller, professor of logistics, and director of the Center for Supply Chain Management Excellence. “From the warehouse and terminal manager’s perspective, it’s all money. We teach students in the class to think about how the movement of goods and materials can achieve the greatest value at the lowest cost for companies and their clients.”

Innovations within a warehouse can improve operations that result in significant efficiencies. In addition to allowing students to have a hands-on experience with technology, data and engineering, the course is designed to teach students to think about 3D technology in terms of logistics.

The students worked in groups to design a materials handling system innovation that demonstrates three principles of supply chain logistics management. They each were given access to computer aided drawing software used by engineers and worked with technicians at the Sea3D Lab to produce a model of their design.

One group of students created a new pallet design to better accommodate 55-gallon drums of hazardous materials. This innovation could reduce safety issues, allow for faster movement of the materials and reduce the amount of space required in a warehouse. Another group designed a new labeling system for a bottle to allow for postponement or adding product customization once there is a known demand.

The collaborative approach between the warehousing and terminal management class and the Sea3D Lab exemplifies the type of research recognized by Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward when he proclaimed Oct. 20, 2018, Supply Chain Logistics Management Day. The proclamation acknowledged, “The success of Pensacola’s business community and the success of the University of West Florida’s supply chain logistics management students and graduates are enhanced through research collaborations between students, faculty and business partners engaging in solving real-world industry issues that have a direct impact on the economic development and prosperity of Pensacola.”

“We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of logistics and supply chain professors who are committed to exposing our students to high impact learning experiences that will help make them immediately valuable to their industry when they graduate from our program,” said Dr. Tim O’Keefe, dean of the College of Business. “Companies nationwide are recognizing this value and are eager to hire our students.”

The warehousing and terminal management students shared their 3D-printed design models and posters describing their projects at a public reception held at the Museum of Commerce Nov. 29. Hosted by the Center for Supply Chain Management Excellence, the Student Supply Chain Logistics Association, and the Sea3D Lab, the event included UWF College of Business alumni Jennifer Ralli and Derek Smith as guest speakers.

“It’s important that we connect our students with successful graduates to help them understand their potential career paths,” Keller said. “The companies our graduates work for are always in need of bright, energetic minds, and we have about a 100 percent placement rate for students who want to work in supply chain logistics management.”

For more information about the UWF Center for Supply Chain Management Excellence, visit