Logistics of Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are always carrying sportive but also economical promises – for the 2024 Games in Paris, 150 000 jobs are expected to be created, and 30% of them in the realm of logistics (the rest in construction and tourism). Among those 45 000, one quarter will be dedicated to cleanliness, the half to raw materials and merchandises transport and the last quarter to passengers transport. It seems to be great news, but almost every time, the cost of this exceptional logistics operations are underestimated, and the financial balance of the event isn’t achieved.

If you are interested in more logistics issues, corruption or financial scandals you can read this article : http://fortune.com/2016/08/10/olympics-financial-disasters/

The transportation system is key, not only in the capital but also between all of the co-host cities. It is a opportunity for some cities to develop new transportation networks, more ecological and efficient, like in Beijing in 2008 for example, when $20 billions were invested for urban transportation – the air pollution decreased for a while, but mostly due to important and temporary restrictions for personal cars, coal and chemical plants.

The management of accomodations, food and staff is also more than complicated. At the peak of Athen’s 2004 games, 60,000 meals where produced every day by the athlete village kitchen, with daily shipments of 210,000 kilograms of raw ingredients—all served up on four million biodegradable plates for 18,000 athletes, coaches, and staff. In London, 70 000 voluteers worked for the organization of the games (more than 240 000 applications were received), and the same amont is expected to be recruited for Paris in 2024.

Because of those challenges, transportation, construction or hotel companies are often partners of the Games, and push the cities applications through an dynamic lobbyism (Bouygues, AccorHotels, Suez for Paris 2024 for example). Being partner of the Olympics is a great marketing operation – you can see below how UPS used it as a “green washing campain” for London 2012.

The logistics planning for Paris 2024 is for the first time aligned with the Paris Agreement of 2015. The objective is to reduce the carbon footprint by -55% compared to the previous games in London and Rio. We can only hope that this prevision is not overestimated and that a global event like this one can be organized in a responsible way.


Automated Vertical Carousel Storage Machine

The automated vertical carousel storage machine is based on the goods-to-person principle. These machines provide fast and accurate picking of stored inventory and use overhead air space to allow for the maximum amount of storage in a minimal footprint. The high rotation speed and efficient machine movements allow more productive picking processes with fewer picking errors. Bins are delivered to an ergonomic counter-high level for quick identification and fast retrieval of items. The ergonomic, state-of-the-art design makes operation easy for all personnel. The vertical carousel is ergonomically designed to prevent actions (bending, lifting, and climbing) that can cause employee injury.

The vertical carousel offers 60% or more storage capacity than static storage shelving and are ideal for storing anything from light to heavy parts over 1,400 pounds per carrier. The flexible carriers can be adapted to a variety of applications from uniformly organized bins to items of varying sizes or a combination of the two.

The vertical storage carousels can be used in a standalone environment or integrate with your WMS or ERP. Simply use the touchscreen to indicate the part and quantity of items to be picked, and the storage carousel automatically rotates into position for immediate retrieval. When an item is requested, the carousel will automatically rotate via the shortest path to deliver items. Integration with WMS makes it possible to track and manage locations of goods and inventory levels.

How the logistic saved a city?

In this post I’m going to talk about one of the most important and complex triumphs of logistics and how it meant the survival of a city.

The Berlin blockade was one of the most important events after the Second World War. During the Soviet occupation the Soviet army blocked Berlin’s communications as it was within its territory. In order to provide supplies, the Allies thought of creating an air bridge between the Allied zones and Berlin, but the logistics behind this were extremely complex.

To give a caliber of the figures that were shuffled in order to provide the city with resources.
The daily distribution to supply the population had to be of:

646 tons of flour and wheat, 125 tons of cereal, 64 tons of fat, 109 tons of meat and fish, 180 tons of dehydrated potatoes, 180 tons of sugar, 11 tons of coffee, 19 tons of powdered milk, 5 tons of whole milk for children, 3 tons of fresh yeast for baking, 144 tons of dehydrated vegetables, 38 tons of salt and 10 tons of cheese. In all, 1,534 tons were required each day to sustain the over two million people of Berlin. Additionally, for heat and power, 3,475 tons of coal, diesel and petrol were also required daily.

The operations starts on June 1948 and by the end of August the operation was a success, with more than 1500 daily flights providing around 4500 tons of supplies.

The operation showed that despite the difficulty was reported that almost 9,000 tons of supplies were delivered each day with a total 2 million tons delivered by the time the blockade was lifted. According to reports, there was a cargo plane landing every 30 seconds.


A different automatic warehouse

In this post I want to talk about an automatic warehouse in the corrugated cardboard sector.

Normally when we think of an automated warehouse, an ASRS or a Miniload, we think of the storage of pallets or boxes. But not all automatic warehouses are designed to store pallets or boxes.

In this case, it is an intermediate warehouse for corrugated cardboard stacks, this warehouse serves as a buffer between the corrugator (machine where the cardboard is produced) and the machines where the cardboard sheets are converted into boxes.

At the exit of the corrugator, the machine sends the data from the cardboard stacks to the warehouse computer system. This data includes the number and height of the piles and the number of plates. The warehouse is connected to the company’s ERP, allowing it to anticipate the programming of the machines where the cardboard boxes are manufactured. When the warehouse receives the signal, the stacker moves to the position where the stacks are located, picks them up and sends them to the box machine.

What are the advantages of automatic warehouse?

  • Optimal use of space.
  • Total control of stock.
  • Reduction in direct labor.

What disadvantages does it have?

  • Initial investment is very high.
  • Need of a very robust information system.
  • High cost of maintenance.

Supermarkets and Electric Vehicles

After knowing if electric trucks were possible or not, the alternatives that exist today and their limitations, I had doubts about whether any of the supermarkets in Spain were using them.

Right now in Spain there are 3 supermarkets that already use electric vehicles to deliver orders. Carrefour, Lidl and Mercadona have decided to start working with electric vehicles.

The most striking case is Carrefour, the French brand began to use an electric vehicle for deliveries in the center of Madrid. This vehicle is a kind of motorcycle-van, has an autonomy of 8 hours and has solar panels for recharging. The name is Scoobic light, it is 100% electric. As it is approved as a scooter, it can be parked in motorcycle areas and has a removable system that allows loading and unloading in an agile way. In addition, it is an efficient transport since it can carry a volume of 1,400 liters of load.

Lidl and Mercadona have started testing Man’s electric model, the TGM 26.30E. With this alternative they avoid the fossil fuel restrictions that we are beginning to see in big cities like Madrid. In addition, being electric is perfect for night-time discharges, as it does not make any noise.

Mercadona is also testing another vehicle for the delivery of its online store. This new vehicle, designed in collaboration with the specialist body supplier Subiela, the specialist supplier of refrigeration equipment Thermoking and the specialist supplier of engines Maxus, has a capacity to transport 7 orders per trip, and its interior is similar to the rest of the trucks that make up the fleet of this online shopping service.

Electric trucks ¿It is possible?

As we know, climate change is a real societal problem and governments are gradually taking action.  Thinking about these measures, I have paid attention to vehicles. More and more users are being urged to buy 100% electric cars, but what about commercial vehicles? These vehicles make thousands of journeys every day and we do not see an increase in the use of electric cars in industrial sectors.

From here, I have become curious and I have researched a little about the alternatives on the market and whether some companies are already putting these vehicles into practice or testing them.

VOLVO FE and FL Electric

These two models have been the first two launched by the Swedish brand. The difference between both is the load capacity, being the FE the one destined to the heaviest operations. They will be able to support a gross weight between 15 and 27 tons depending on the model

The first Volvo FE Electric, in a garbage collection version with a superstructure developed together with Europe’s largest bodybuilder, Faun, started operating in early 2019 in Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg..

Composed by two electric motors that offer a maximum power of 370 Kw. They have a range between 200 and 300 km. They take an hour and a half to charge.

Mercedes Eactros

The Mercedes proposal is called Eactros and is a truck with a range of 200 km and a maximum gross weight of 18 and 25 tons depending on the model.

Man TGM 26.30E

Is a vehicle with an electric motor located in the centre of the frame, generating 264 kW maximum load is 26 Tn. The truck offers a range of 180. According to the manufacturer, this vehicle, designed for use in urban logistics.

Mitsubishi Fuso Ecanter

Fuso is the commercial variant of the Mitsubishi brand and the Fuso Ecanter is this manufacturer’s light truck. It has a range of 100 km and an MMA of 6 tons. Mitsubishi has put 500 units into circulation in Europe, the USA and Japan. It is possible to see them circulating in New York with the UPS company.

So, it is possible??

The answer is yes and no at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, there are electric models available and in circulation in some cities. There are 2 main problems with these vehicles:

Firstly, the problem we find in all electric vehicles, autonomy. Right now there are no trucks on the market capable of meeting the needs of transport companies for long journeys, so their use is intended for small deliveries.

Second and most importantly, none of the models are already in line production. Volvo will launch production at the end of 2019 and has only put a few models like the Hamburg one into operation. Mercedes will not do the same until 2021 and the 500 trucks distributed by Fuso are rented with a duration of 2 years. During 2019 Fuso will launch series production. Man will not manufacture this model until the middle of the next decade. Therefore, little by little we will see how these vehicles are appearing in the urban deliveries but there is still much to see them on long distances.

Vision Picking – the ultimate “operator to product approach”?

In the last logistics lectures, a strong focus was on the picking activity in warehouses. Seeing the technological and highly automated approaches of “product to operator” just as the KIVA System – or now called Amazon robotics – that are used by the big companies, is very impressive. But these solutions driven by digitalization are not realizable for all warehouses, especially when a lot of flexibility is required. So, I asked myself: What about the traditional “operator to product” approaches? Do they have a future?

And yes, they have! A few days ago, one of the most important logistic service suppliers, DHL Supply Chain, announced that they will foster the use of smart classes in their warehouses and hubs. The use of smart classes is part of an approach called “vision picking”.

Traditional approaches:

The traditional paper pick list was replaced a long time ago by electronic systems. The hand-held scanner has the disadvantage that the picker´s hands are not free. Pick by light approaches are inflexible and expensive, especially when warehouses are rearranged. Pick by voice solutions require an intense concentration of workers and are not efficient for high picking densities.

Vision picking:

Pick-by-vison is an “operator to product” approach where smart glasses help the picker with doing his job. The smart glasses use “augmented reality” in order to display the needed information in the visual field of the operator with the help of Wi-Fi. This means that virtual images are built in the visual field of the operator.

Check out the following video at 1:18 min to see how the smart glasses work:

The glasses not only supply important information about the
picker´s actual task, they also…

  • …indicate in which shelve or on which pallet the target product is.
  • …show the fastest and most efficient route to the location of the product.
  • … allow the operator to scan the barcode by just looking at it by using an integrated scanner.
  • … indicate if the picker has identified the right product.
  • … tells the picker how many items should be picked. 
  • … can integrate voice inputs and have integrated headsets.

In the following video, you can see through the eyes of a picker wearing the smart glasses and pick goods:

Example DHL:

As mentioned above, DHL Supply Chain is using the smart glasses since 2015. After first test, the company rolled out the “vison picking” in almost every region. Also, DHL Express used the smart glasses at its most important hubs in Brussels, Belgium and at the airport of Los Angeles. The implementation at the US-airports New York, Cincinnati and Chicago are planned. Also, big production companies like Samsung, Volkswagen and Opel are already using this technology.