All posts by jbarreragabaldon


In my current post I am going to talk about the “pallets cage”. The pallet cage is an improvement that was introduced to trucks. It was created for optimize the return of the pallets after doing a delivery.


As is possible to see in the previous image the pallet cage is located in the middle of  backside part of the truck. The improvement is nothing but add a cage for help with the pallets or additionals wheels. The cage was designed to solve a problem that happen with the return trip in the distribution sector.

The problem with the return trip was what to do with the pallets when the commodities is served to the customer. Because sometimes for the characteristics of the commodities the customer does not need to keep the pallets in his warehouse.

When the customer or the commodities do not need the pallets for be stored, these are returned to the producer warehouse. And in that case the pallets spend place at the truck that can be used to take commodities from the delivery place.


The pallets cage helps to the companies to optimize all the place of their trucks in order to transport the highest quantity of products in the trip of return. Thanks to that companies have the possibility of organiza their routes for have all the time the trucks full-loads. With little improvements like that companies save money and achieve a logistic system more sustainable.


In my last post I talk about the train connection for goods transportation  between Spain and China. In my today post I am going to talk about the current situation of freight transport by train in Spain.

Freight transportation by train supposes already of the  5% of the spanish freight transport.  This number represents a value much lower than the european middle of railway transportation that is situated between 12 and 25%. The situation in EEUU is very different where the railway transport represents half of the freight transport (42%) in all the country.

The use of the train for move goods has grown slightly in the most developed european industries in the last years. With the exception of with the exceptions of Spain and France as is possible to say in the next chart.

cuotatren1Source: Eurostat

The railway sector has several problems that explains the low percentage on the total transportation in Spain. One of them is the low development of the private operators that report a strategy of low prices from Renfe Mercancias (Public Company). Thanks to this strategy private operators only control the 20% of the market share since the liberation of the market ten years ago.

In the next links is possible to see an interactive map of the number of freight trains that travel around Spain in two days (13-14 March, 2016) and a map of the spanish railways.

Interactive map:

Spanish railways:

The spanish railway has to add some technique issues like the difference with the width of the european railway. This difference makes that the trains must do a change in the french border to connect with the european width with the corresponding loss of time.  Other problems are the low level of investment in contraposition with other government’s commitments like AVE.

Spanish freight trains have length limitations and they can not use wagons for transport two containers like in EEUU. In last years the main investments are located in connect the railways with the most important industrial centers and ports with the biggest volume of containers. Other point of investment are the logistic platforms and intermodal terminals with the intention of create an integrate and sustainable model of transport. In the following image is possible to see a doble-stack rail transport from EEUU.


Source: BNSF Railway

The low use  of train is doing that trucks are the kings of spanish transport. It goes against the european transport police that expects for 2050 the use of train and ships for distances of more than 300 km. The reduction of the truck’s transportation and the increase of the train will decrease the level of CO2 and will decrease the traffic problems.

With the underdevelopment of the rail transport Spain is losing the opportunity of be the gate for the goods that come from America and Africa to Europe.  It is important that administration and companies work together to achieve a better rail transport for have a more efficient transport and to get new opportunities of business. However is clear that is a hard work to do until take profit of the investments and achieve the grow of this sector.

Links of interest:

The “new silk route”: From Yiwu to Madrid

In 2014 was inaugurated the largest railway for merchandise transport of the world that links Madrid (Spain) with the city of Yiwu (China) and has a distance of 13052 km. That line forms part of a big project from the chinese government and it follow the three lines that links german cities and chinese cities. 

These lines had a volume of 400 trains in 2015 that suppose more than 30000 containers and 200 in the current year The spanish route has had a volume of 40 trains since the first shipment at the end of 2014.

The Madrid-Yiwu route recorre 8 countries (Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and China) as is possible see in the following map.

Madrid-YiwuSource: Daily Mail Online

This route means an improvement in the possibility of transport products to China for the european producers. Moreover they have a new way of connect with the most important country for european imports.

Transport by train represents one important alternative to the maritime transport with a reduction of already 10 days of shipments time. While a train spends 21 days in cover its route a boat arrives to China from Spain in already 30-35 days. That time is superior in the case of boats that departure from Germany where the save of time is bigger than in the spanish case.

Ship a container in a boat from Spain to China costs 1200 $ and send a container in the train have a cost of 2000 $. That means a biggest cost but it is lower than the cost of a ship by airplane that has a high cost but is the fastest way of make a shipment. Another interesting characteristic of the train shipment is its friendly environmental level in comparatio with the shipment by boat.

The time of the train route is increased because the train must do 3 changes of railway width, one in Irún (Spain), other Brest/Malaszewicze (Russia/Belarus) and the last in Dostyk/Alashankou (Russia/China). When that problem will be solutioned the train route between China and the UE will be more competitive.

One of the problems that explains the low growing of the Madrid-Yiwu line in comparison with the German lines is that the train arrives full of Chinese products and go to China half full. However the expectations are that the traffic of the route grows until 2 times per week in the following years.

The next map is about the project from China for develop a new silk road with the objective of improve their communication with Europa creating a Eurasian hub. In an intent for reduce the dependance of their commerce of the maritime transport.

rutadelasedaSource: ElEconomista

 It is clear that the German connection are working but the question is: Will the spanish companies capable of take profit of that new connection with China? The line open a new option for connect with the fourth market for the spanish exports.

Links of interest:

Design for Manufacture and Assembly

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) is a set of techniques for design or redesign a product with the objective of improve the manufacturability, assemblability and costs, respecting the essential functions of the product. It could be divided in two parts Design for Manufacture and Design for Assembly.

That set of techniques was introduced in 1980 by Geoffrey Boothroyd and Peter Dewhurst, two teachers of engineering from Rhode Island University. Both created a company called Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc. that continues developing the DFMA nowadays and have the possession of the trademark DFMA.

DFMA produce a lower degree of rentability than the innovation but the risk of the application is lower in comparison with the risk that produces the innovation. The principal uses of that technique are the following:

  • Analyze the management chain of cost.
  • Simplify the products and improve the quality.
  • Improve the communication between the departments of design.
  • Decrease the manufacturing and assembly costs.

The next image is a good example of the application of DFMA where Texas Instruments  achieved an improvement of 80% in the efficiency of the design for a M1 tank electronic box. In that operation of redesign they achieved reduce the number of components and fasteners and the volume and weight.


Figure 1: Example of DFMA


Potential uses of that methods do not end in the design and redesign of products it can be applied to other sectors like building construction or automotive sector. In the next video is possible to view the construction of an hospital in Sidney by Laing O’Rourke, an international engineering company, and how the company applied the DFMA method to improve the construction of the hospital.


Links of interest:

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