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.

LOGISTICS & RUNNING

Moving from A to B

As everything in life, in order to do good when planning an event, you have to have a plan and series of activities to do in order to achieve the desire results. And as you can imagine, organizing a sporting event is not an exception.

This time I’m going to talk about running (a race, marathon), which are going to need that we fulfill a series of tasks before, during and after the main event so we can label it as successful.

BEFORE

As the very first thing and basic need, we have to measure and specify the route. This will make all following decisions dependent and maybe, easier to make.

Runners registration: You must have a specific platform or place where the forms can be fill out and register. Everything must be saved and a limited number of places granted.

Volunteers registration: Have a data base of everyone participating and contact information. Distribute the tasks required to do on the day.

Kits. The same as the number of places. All put together at least a weed before the race and stablish the pickup or pickup places. Must be centered and nearby the route chosen.

Start the marketing; make everyone aware of what’s happening, place, hour, route, distances, prices, etc.

Get all material needed in order to limit the rout, and signalized it.

Hydration posts and waste disposal management.

Sound equipment

Portable toilets; the number of this depends on how long the circuit is

Insurance

Ensure a medical team to be on site.

Now, as learned before, everything mention will have to be placed on the event day so is a MUST to have planned arriving schedules, movers, transportation suppliers and timing for in and out of place.

DURING

Welcoming all runners and putting them into place according to their registration.

Timer

Judge panel in place

Awards

Places announcements

AFTER

Record of time of every runner including every checkpoint

Final report to sponsors and investors

Customer satisfaction survey

Warehouse SPACE PLAN

Warehouse product flow determines your overall productivity and efficiency, when designing the overall layout of warehouse, the shipping and receiving placement should be valuated and chosen based on available space product throughput needs and available resources, warehouse layout option to consider include U shaped, I shaped and L shaped,
U shaped warehouse product flow is the most common type of layout in this layout the shipping and receiving docks are located next to one another, offering shared utilization of dock resources such as personnel and material handling equipment, this layout also minimizes product handling offering high cross docking capability.
I shaped warehouse product flow and L shaped warehouse product flow also known as through flow are similar and that the shipping and receiving areas are located on different sides of the warehouse as a result these require more available space than U shaped layouts, these layout can be beneficial for certain operation for example warehouses that require heightened security can benefit from the separate in an out areas, I shaped and L shaped can also provide larger sorting and storage areas for both shipping and receiving docks as well as for isolated monitoring of each function.

Four Tips for Optimizing Your Warehouse:
1-Choose the right storage system to maximize usage of space for instance with pallet flow racking can double or triple capacity compared to a conventional pallet rack if loaded in the back and unloaded from the front pallet flow system are a first in first out to help manage product rotation.
2-If Warehouse is rectangular are racking should most likely be run long ways it’s the most efficient way to set up aisles.
3-Make sure are using all vertical space too many times there’s vertical space on top of pallets that goes unused many of Toyota warehouse solution can life over 30 feet increasing vertical stacking capabilities.
4- Always slot pallets for maximum accessibility skills with the highest frequency of turns should be placed together in the most accessible locations, most of the time the most accessible location is at ground level allowing a picker to use an electric pallet jack rather than needing a larger forklift or order picker.

Workers in Logistics

Employees in a “C Discount” warehouse in France, december 2012. JEAN-PIERRE MULLER / AFP

With the decline of the manufacturing industrial sector in Western Europe,  the working class shifted to activities which aren’t classified as secondary sector, but whose tasks to perform are still industrial. Those jobs are repetitive, painful and often cause occupational diseases. Besides, the illusion of a vertical mobility which could allow the motivated workers to climb the ladder and access to managing or technical positions doesn’t remain for a long time – 80% of the jobs in logistics are workers positions.

Inside the warehouse, not every task has the same degree of arduousness. Preparation of the purchase order, parcel and package sorting, packaging are the one fled by employees. Better to be forklift operator, controller or data entry clerk, were the working conditions are a bit easier. No one wants to stay a long time working in a warehouse – the number of interim is particularly high, but logistics offer long-term contracts and the working conditions for non-qualified persons are sometimes worse outside.

Each company has also its own way to consider employees. Amazon was criticized several time for offering a very stressful and dehumanizing work environment. Recently, a pregnant woman sued the company, alleging she got fired because of her pregnancy – which isn’t the first case (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-48185606).

Amazon Employees Speak Out About Workplace Conditions | NBC Nightly News

For a lot of workers, logistics is « one of those realms where you go in without much expectations and where you’d always like to go out, without perspectives» (Carlotta Benvegnù & David Gaborieau, « Au hasard de la logistique. Quand les mobilités ouvrières passent par l’entrepôt », La Vie des idées , 30 octobre 2018. ISSN : 2105-3030). The issues faced by the large majority of employees should always be kept in mind when looking at the operations in a warehouse « from the above » like we always do in class.

Roman Army logistic

When we think about logistics everyone comes to mind companies like Amazon or the management of maritime transport. However, logistics is as old as humanity. And it has always existed. From the transport of the marble of the pyramids, the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, the fleet of the East Indies or the military quartermaster of an aircraft carrier.

In this post I will talk about such a transcendental element in the history of Western civilization as the Roman Empire and the logistics behind its campaigns.

When we think of the logistics of a military campaign in the old age we must take into account the amount of supplies that had to be transported both food and equipment to maintain the advance and secure positions.

Giving a sense of scale of this situation. Each soldier carried an approximate amount of 40 kg of weight. In addition, every eight soldiers used to carry a mule and a couple of slaves, all for transport only. If we do the calculations this supposes that for each company (4800 soldiers) there were between 600 and 1200 mules as well as around 1200 slaves. In this way we can get an idea of the magnitude of the organization of this logistics.

The calculations show us that each legion consumed 8000 kg of grain, 45000 liters of water and 18000 kg of animal feed, all this on a daily basis to give us an idea of the difficulty of management.

But how were the supplies organized?
On different levels. Firstly, as I have said, each soldier carried part of his supplies. Secondly, supplies collected during the conquest and finally supplies sent to the army.

On the first level. Each soldier carried food for a week. In addition, each battalion carried mules with food for a month. In reference to water, for example, it carried just enough because of the illogical nature of its transport.

At the second level, the army obtained supplies through three methods: foraging, requisition and pillaging. But these strategies were not always enough and this is where the logistics of the Roman Empire comes in.

The most important thing is the existence of supply lines that connect the army to a supply source. Within the supply lines we differentiate three elements. The strategic point from which the army is supplied. As a strategic point we can say the provincial capitals with their market and their suppliers. Together to this we found the operational point that would be where all the intendencia would be realized as well as the storage. From this point the transport would be done up to a point located halfway called tactical point. The idea is that as the campaign progresses, the operational centers will become in the future a strategic point there that are located next to the river beds. The tactical points are where all the supplies for the daily maintenance of the campaign are stored and are the closest element.

The functioning of the supply chain is the transport from the operational points that have been supplied by the strategic centers, to the tactical points one by one and to be supplying the following one. Securing the supply for the future in the last always

Toyota supply chain is the idol

With thinking in the case of our last class in logistics, I remembered the idol example in production process that we took in last semester “TOYOTA”.

TOYOTA is one of the largest automotive brands with a global footprint, Known for its innovative methods of production. Toyota has acquired a leadership position in the automotive industry. Every vehicle that it makes require assembling of thousands of parts sourced from suppliers all around the world.

Toyota’s supply chain practices have been lauded widely as the best in the automotive industry. The supply chain which was developed by Toyota was one of the premier in Low Cost supply chains and the situation has grown highly demanding in the 21st century and having a healthy supply chain network is an absolute essential to win against the competition.

“What makes Toyota different from its competitors?”

“Toyota has an earthquake resilient supply chain” -An pioneering initiative feature of Toyota’s supply chain is its resistance to disasters. The brand has collaborated with the suppliers across each country and region for building a disaster resilient supply chain. The long standing relationship of trust that  Toyota has built with its suppliers has helped the brand receive and share information from them. for Example April 2016 there was an earthquake “Kumamoto” and following the disaster, Toyota was able to respond fast and make a quick recovery with the help of its database. 

-just in time one of the main pillars of TPS (toyota production system). It refers to the manufacturing and conveyance on only “what is needed, when is needed, and in the amount needed in the system”. with the following video you can know why TOYOTA could be the idol in supply chain.

Centralized and De-centralized logistics in Toyota

One of the challenges to having such a view of Toyota’s supply chain – let alone controlling it – is the complexity of its management organisation. . The central function has always been to monitor and manage providers and determine packaging requirements, working with Purchasing to procure the services. However, a great deal of logistics power has always sat with the plants, each of which is a separately incorporated entity at Toyota. 

Many of the operational logistics functions are split between each plant’s Manufacturing and Production Control departments. The internal conveyance of parts and containers falls under Manufacturing, Parts ordering, production planning and the management of separation centres – which sort inbound material by dock or assembly lines, and subsequently sort empty containers for return legs– are functions of Production Control. This setup reflects TPS (Toyota production system) in its degree of integration between manufacturing and supply at each plant. Until recently, each plant’s Production Control department also managed full truckload and milkrun deliveries, which it outsourced to lead logistics providers. The LLPs determined the routing based on volume and lead times and adjusting frequency to match the plant.

Finally, Toyota redesigned its plants so that it can also export to market that remain strong when the local market weakens and called this strategy “ global complementation”