All posts by borcuero

When the lights turn off

What happen when a fluorescent light stops working?

Most people think that we can throw out that kind of residues wherever we want, but it’s quite far from the truth. Fluorescent lights have some materials like mercury or fluorescent dust which are dangerous for the environment and also for humans.

For this reason, there are some companies that recollect them in order to recycle them in the most appropriate way such as AMBILAMP, a Spanish company whose main objective is the recollection and the subsequent treatment of the residues. AMBILAMP follows a “double model of inverse logistics plan” whose main object is to take responsibility for the product since its production. As the image below shows, this company has a lot of different points of collection according to the different sizes in different countries.



On the other hand, the recycling process consists in: cut of the metal endings, crushing and separation of the materials. The percentage of recycled material in 2011 was: glass 83.8 %, metals 9.3%, fluorescent dust 3.3%, plastic 3.6 % and Hg distillation 0.002%. All of these materials are used for the production of many other things we usually use.


Here, there’s a video about the company regarding its recycling project:

Finally, I would like to add that materials can be reused in different ways such as sculptures or to create new spaces but the most important thing is to know how much work is behind every little thing we stop using in our daily life without been aware of it.

ytyr hjj

Hell Roads

I would like to write a post related with Diego’s last post “Where the trucks cannot (still) arrive”, I’ve just read it and it has seemed to me quite interesting. Furthermore, I’ve remembered a TV programme that I used to watch some years ago in Xplora channel. It was called “IRT Deadliest Roads”.

In my opinion, it was a very interesting programme in which you could see the truck drivers going by quite dangerous roads to deliver different kind of products. Even sometimes, at home, you could feel scared because they lived life or death situations.



In this programme, three experts truck drivers, Alex Debogorski, Rick Yemm, and Lisa Kelly, competed in order to know who was the best of them and who faced these extreme situations better.

It’s very curious to see how difficult can be this part of logistics because, although this programme was just that, I’m sure about somewhere truck drivers have to drive on these types of roads.

Finally I want to share with you two videos where you can have a look at this exciting programme. I’m sure you would like to live this experience at least once in your life, but as Diego said in his post, you need a lot of money.

JIDOKA: a pillar of the lean manufacturing

I would like to write a post regarding my OSS for this week, JIDOKA. It’s a very interesting concept related with lean manufacturing, its founder is Sakichi Toyoda and it’s not only used by Toyota, nowadays, it’s used by many other big industries because it entails a lot of advantages.

The origin of Jidoka:
In 1896, Sakichi Toyoda invented Japan’s first self-powered loom called the “Toyoda Power Loom”. Subsequently, he incorporated lots of revolutionary inventions into his looms, including the weft-breakage automatic stopping device (which automatically stopped the loom when a thread breakage was detected), the warp supply device and the automatic shuttle changer. Then, in 1924, Sakichi invented the Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom, the world’s first automatic loom with a non-stop shuttle-change motion. This loom automatically stopped when it detected a problem such as thread breakage.

The meaning of JIDOKA is “automation” or “autonomation” which implies “self-working” and “self-moving”, and JIDOKA can be defined as automation with a human touch. This concept is based in 4 main principles:

  1. Detect the abnormality or problem
  2. Stop the operation
  3. Fix or correct the immediate condition
  4. Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure

As I said above, JIDOKA has some important advantages such as higher quality and machine up-time, reduction in labor, lower repair costs, improvement of the customer satisfaction and increase of the productivity. The purpose of this concept is to free equipment from the necessity of constant human attention, separate people from machines and allow workers to staff multiple operations.

JIDOKA allows authorizing the machine operator to stop the flow line so that defective pieces will not move to the next station. This term is very related with Just-In-Time (JIT), another lean manufacturing concept, because in JIT systems, it’s absolutely vital to produce with zero defects. As we can see in the following picture, they are the main two pillars (principles) of the Toyota Production System along with Just-In-Time.


Finally, I want to share a video with you in which you will see clearly the Toyota Production System (TPS):

The IKEA’s success

Five or six days ago, a friend of mine sent me a very interesting video which talks about Burger King, McDonalds, IKEA, etc. Though certainly the criticism is directed to the last one. At the end of this post, I’ll put the video, but firstly I would like to talk a bit about IKEA which has a successful career, although we have to assemble our purchase.

IKEA was founded in 1943, in Sweden. IKEA focused on offering a wide range of good quality, stylish, well-designed, and functional furniture at a low cost so that more people could afford it. IKEA kept cost reduction at the center of any decision making. It made efforts to improve its internal supply chain processes like packaging, warehousing, and transportation which contributed to its cost cutting objective.

IKEA’s supply chain management became the key factor for the success of the company. As a result IKEA managed its costs better than its competitors ans could offer products at 30% lower costs. Nowadays, we can say that IKEA is expanded around the world, by the year 1990, it had 89 stores in 21 countries, and it was operating 260 stores in 36 countries in 2008.

ikea world

The Flat Pack

IKEA’s most differentiating factor is its flat packaging system which had significantly improved its operational efficacy. Assembled furniture is expensive to transport and store because you have to pay for a lot of air. By flat packing unassembled furniture and getting customers to pick their own products in store, IKEA drastically reduce its transportation and warehousing costs and can pass the savings to their customers (30% lower costs). Furthermore, this company doesn’t offer free home delivery as other furniture retailers do.

As IKEA was selling at very low costs, the competitors forced their suppliers to boycott IKEA. That led IKEA to design and engineer its furniture. The flat packing success started in 1955 when one of IKEA’s co-workers decided to remove the legs of a table so that he could fit in his car and minimize any damage in his transit. That idea allowed IKEA to test the flat packing in 1956, then it realized that flat packing could bring down the costs of transportation and storage drastically.

flat packs

This happening also allowed minimizing the types of pallets used to store the products, so IKEA started focusing on designing functional furniture that could be disassembled and transported to its stores.

Now, I’d like to share with you the video mentioned above.

Another curious thing about IKEA are its stores, in particular their design. When you go to an IKEA store, they give you pencils and papers at the entrance to list down product details like item code and respective aisle number in the store’s warehouse. The store layout is designed in such way that customers have to pass through all of its products so that even a customer who enter with a planned shopping list would check out other products which he/she didn’t really want. Furthermore, customers have to pick the products displayed in the showroom in the form of disassembled flat packs. Customers are provided with flat trolleys for carrying their goods from the warehouse and in addition, there are some loading zones at the store’s exit where you could bring your vehicle and load the merchandise yourself, what a deal!

ikea flat packaging

How to meet customers’ needs

I’d like to write about the topic I had for my last OSS because I have really enjoyed surfing the net. My last topic was MASS CUSTOMIZATION. I’m going to give you a simple and brief definition in order to introduce this interesting concept which is getting more and more important within this business world.

MASS CUSTOMIZATION: in marketing, manufacturing, call centres and management, is the use of flexible computer-aided manufacturing systems to produce custom output. Those systems combine the low unit costs of mass production processes with the flexibility of individual customization (from _customization). We can summarize it in a single picture:


This concept or this trend comes as a result of the main idea that customers always have the reason, as we could see in Mercadona, the customer is the boss, although Mercadona doesn’t really follow this idea…

MASS CUSTOMIZATION obviously supposes a change in the current relationship between production and consumption. A MASS CUSTOMIZATION company has to provide tremendous variety at prices comparable to standard goods and services, or better if possible. Therefore, the company that better satisfies its customers’ individual wants and needs will have greater sales.

This “new” trend started in the 1980s, it appeared as an alternative of Mass Production (focused on high production and low prices, though without considering enough customers’ wants). We can see the difference between these two different concepts:


Next picture shows the MASS CUSTOMIZATION cycle:

circleHere you are some webpages where you can enjoy creating your own possessions:

Of course, I think this concept will be related to 3D printing in a near future.

The Panama Canal

Last week, looking for some information about Maersk I read that some Maersk vessels aren’t able to cross the Panama Canal because of their size. In a few months, these vessels and many more will be able to cross it.

Panama Canal is located in the middle of the American country, between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its length is 78 kilometers and it’s one of the most important Canals in the world.


In 1880 a French company tried to build it but it failed. After that, on August 15, 1914, it was officially opened. Along its construction over 30,000 workers died and it cost approximeately 400 million dollars. This Canal makes faster the comercial interchange and relatively reduces costs between the two oceans. Until today, its five main users have been the United States, China, Chile, Japan and South Corea.

Nowadays and since 2007, it is being carried out an expansion project which will allow crossing of bigger vessels along the Panama Canal. So, this project will speed up the worldwide transport.

Since the project started there have been a lot of problems, recently its construction was completely stopped because of the lack of liquidity.

In summary, the project consists of three parties:

  • Construction of two new lock complexes, one on the Atlantic side and another on the Pacific. Locks raise ship from sea level up to the level of inland waterways, they are wider and more efficient.
  • Excavation of new access canals to the new locks and widening of existing navigational channels.
  • Deepening of the navigation canals and elevation of the operational water level of Gatun Lake.

New Panamax ships will be the largest that can cross the new locks.


And new U.S ports are being prepared for Panamax vessels.

The Panama Canal expansion project is expected to be finished in 2015 and people talk about 1,600 million dollars, an incredible cost!!

Curious things:

  • Since its inauguration about 1,000,000 vessels have crossed it.
  • The tonne cost is 2.20 dollars.
  • The Maersk Dellys established a new tollbooth record – 274,590 dollars on May 8, 2007.
  • With the excavation rests we could built a replicate of the Great Wall of China from San Francisco till New York.
  • The average is about 12,000 vessels a year.
  • The cargo record was on December 15, 1981. An Arco Texas vessel loaded 65,299 tonnes of oil.

From my point of view, this project could suppose an enormous change in logistical transportation but I also think it’s a very expensive project which has a lot of dirty rags behind.

The DHL importance in F1

F1 championship has just started and it’s a sport that I really like. This competition is organized almost over the world (Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia). F1 has the best engineers, aerodynamic, tyres, engines, technology, and of course the best pilots and we are lucky to have a pilot among them, Fernando Alonso who has won 2 championships. In summary, F1 is the highest class of single-seater auto racing.

Here, in Valencia, it was held a race (urban circuit) during five years (2008-2012). I had the opportunity to see the enormous trucks next to me once in Harbor Avenue and the trainings. It was amazing!

You can think that it can be easy to have ready all the cars, spare parts, petrol, tools, machines, tyres, etc. but it isn’t. Logistics at F1 could be the most important aspect because everything has to be on time and at the precise moment, and that’s quite difficult.

DHL has been the official logistics partner since 2004. DHL is in charge of transporting those things that I’ve mentioned before, including the overseas transportation. This means about 400 tonnes of material and they need 100 trucks for the Europe races and 7 aircrafts for the other races.

They work very hard almost 365 days a year. DHL has to have everything under control and start working about 9 days before each Grand Prix, though sometimes there are only 4 days. They always work against the clock. In addition, DHL guarantees a safe and accurate transport. And they are able to deliver express shipments in just 24 hours.

Each team goes over 160.000 kilometers a year along 19 different destinations which is very awesome.

As you all can see, DHL has an impressive logistics. Maybe it’s one of the most important companies in the world in this sector. Moreover, as we can see in the races, DHL has an important and strong advertising campaign which helps to make it bigger.