Skip Navigation

Global Obesity Prevention Center


A Highly Extensible Resource for Modeling Agricultural and Food Supply Chains


Project Lead: Bruce Y. Lee, MD, MBA




hermeshermes logoOur HERMES Logistics Modeling Team, consisting of investigators from the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), designed the first version of HERMES to help evaluate and improve vaccine supply chains throughout the world.  Our goal is to create a version of HERMES for agricultural and food supply chains

The model would include virtual representations of every farm, orchard, food production location, processing location, storage location, storage device, equipment, transport vehicle/device, worker, food product, and product accessory in a supply chain/ food system.  As an example, consider a simulated supply chain for getting vegetables from where they are grown to where they are consumed

HERMES Food SupplyThe model would represent each tomato, carrot, head of lettuce, etc. with a computational entity, which just like a real vegetable, can contain a variety of characteristics such as type, size, weight, storage requirements, age, and expiration date. Millions of different vegetables can flow through the model simultaneously, simulating a real-life supply chain. 

These simulated vegetables would first be first harvested by virtual equipment and people.  They would flow through a series of simulated storage and processing locations where virtual personnel would place them and then simulate through virtual representations of different equipment.  They will then be delivered to virtual locations (e.g., stores, marketplaces, restaurants, and homes) where the vegetables are used and consumed by virtual people. The virtual people would then derive nutritional value from the types and amount of virtual vegetables they consumed.



To develop and implement HERMES for Agricultural and Food Systems, a software program to generate a detailed computational simulation model of any agricultural or food supply chain that can serve as a “virtual laboratory” for decision makers to evaluate the supply chain and test the effects of different policies, practices, and technology changes.



HERMES FoodPopulations need access to nutritious food to maintain or improve their health.  Access to nutritious food depends on agricultural and food supply chains--- the complex system of locations, equipment, vehicles, personnel, and processes involved in producing, processing, preparing, and transporting food (e.g., fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, dairy, and beverages) from farms and other food sources all the way to consumers. 

There is an urgent need to evaluate and improve the agricultural and food supply chains of many locations around the world.  Computational simulation modeling has helped transform many other fields (e.g., meteorology, transportation, and manufacturing) and substantially improve their systems.  

In developing HERMES (Highly Extensible Resource for Modeling Supply-chains), our team aims to transform how decision makers evaluate and improve agricultural and food systems.  With a “virtual laboratory,” decision makers can first address a variety of questions such as:

Potential Users


HERMES can help evaluate supply chain operations and performance, identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential solutions, determine the impact of new technologies, designs, processes, and policy-changes, and help guide investments and strategies. Examples of potential users include: