The PhD research can be characterised as Supply Chain Technology and the PhD project aims to create a sustainable cold food chain network by implementing blockchain technology. Read more Read less

It will contribute to the logistics and supply chain management discipline by designing and developing a roadmap to make cold food chains sustainable using blockchain.

The successful applicant will be working one day per week, or, equivalently, 44 days per year for the Centre for Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management. Some indicative work can be expressed as follows:

  • Supporting the MSc programmes the centre runs (e.g. attending the study tours, preparing learning and teaching materials, marking)
  • Supporting the ongoing research in the centre (e.g. contributing to literature review, data analysis, report writing, and presentation preparation)
  • Supporting social media and online presence of the centre (e.g. content generation, growing the network)

Food chain comprise of multiple supply processes beginning with agricultural harvest, through primary production, to storage, distribution and consumption by end-customers. Temperature controlled food chains are typically called ‘Cold food chains’. The energy consumption and Co2 emission in cold food chains are significantly higher due to the perishable nature of the food (Ndraha et al., 2018; Cerchione et al., 2018). Thus, to make cold food chains sustainable, there is a need for bringing transparency and accountability between different supply chain activities (involving multiple processes and stakeholders). Blockchain technology has shown some potential to improve sustainability in supply chains (Saberi et al., 2018), with timely and reliable access to information on provenance and quality across the value chain; however, its potential has not been explored in the cold food chains.

The PhD research will aim to explore blockchain implementation challenges and opportunities associated with disintermediation, incentivisation and ability to integrate with other Industry 4.0 technologies such as IOT, Smart sensors, AI in cold food supply chain network in order to make them sustainable.

The Centre for Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management is strategically investing in the Supply Chain 4.0 research stream, which comprises of Industry 4.0 connecting technologies such as Blockchain, Internet of Things, Augmented and virtual reality, Smart Sensors, Artificial Intelligence to name a few. Blockchains in the supply chain is identified to provide transparency and accountability, lower operational costs, reduce transaction settlement times and improve cash flow.

The project will use a mixed methodology approach by combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. Different qualitative methods such as questionnaire survey and structured interviews will be conducted to explore sustainability and blockchain implementation challenges in cold food chains. Quantitative methods such as simulation and optimisation will be used to evaluate the performance of cold food supply chain systems under distributed ledger technology. Combination of primary and secondary data on energy consumption, water and carbon footprints and ethical issues will be used to support the research.

The PhD candidate will get a chance to work on challenging research project with companies that are interested in applying Blockchain technology for improving their supply chain performance. The candidate will benefit from the yearly allowance available in the school for attending conferences and collecting research data.

At a glance

  • Application deadline30 Jun 2019
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSOM0005


1st Supervisor: Dr Abhijeet Ghadge
2nd Supervisor: Prof Michael Bourlakis

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline.

Applicants must have a minimum of a good postgraduate/undergraduate degree (2.1 or higher) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Business Management, Industrial Engineering, Systems Engineering or Computer sciences. The ideal candidate will have a background in Operations, Supply Chain, Information & Technology Management, Food supply chains or closely related fields. Applicants from non-English speaking countries must have an IELTS score of 7 or above - for UK graduates this requirement is not necessary.

The applicant’s academic writing ability will be evaluated based on the research proposal submitted. The proposal should have an initial literature review on blockchain technology implementation challenges. A research methodology on the potential use of different qualitative and quantitative methods for modelling the roadmap for implementation of blockchain in cold food supply chains. Ability to use mathematical or simulation modelling approach is must. The candidate should demonstrate self-initiation and self-learning. The applicant has to satisfy the general requirements for a PhD at Cranfield (numerical reasoning and critical thinking tests and the interview) and have the necessary social skills to engage with stakeholders and to communicate their research to nontechnical audiences.


Sponsored by Cranfield School of Management, this fully-funded studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,009 (tax free) plus course fees for three years.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact: 

Dr Abhijeet Ghadge
T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 2853

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form making sure to quote reference number SOM0005 within your application.