After the development of the industrial revolution, logistical problems began to appear in the cities related to the parking of cars due to the increase in the concentration of population in the cities and with it, the increase in the number of vehicles.
This led to solutions for more efficient mobility in large cities such as New York or Chicago. The problem was that the price of land in the cities was increasing, so the investment in the construction of a conventional parking was not feasible.
For this reason, in the 1920s, the first high-rise car parks began to be installed, created by the Westinghouse company.
Today, 100 years later, this solution is again strongly presented for the concept of so-called smart cities.
In fact, in Spain, the first city to develop this idea has been Alcalá de Henares.
Although with a slightly different and more updated technology, it is curious how, passing years and years, solutions and ideas that were created a long time ago are still useful and valid.
The sector of logistics has also committed with the compromise of finding solutions to take care of the planet and reduce our impact. One of these alternatives for future transportation is Green Logistics which is based on transforming the logistics systems and processes using innovation in order to develop a strategy more respectful with the environment. The main objective of this philosophy is improving the efficiency of the transport and reducing the impact on the environment but also obtaining an economic rentability for the businesses.
Regarding the transportation, Green Logistics tries to cut down the sources of pollution, coming these emissions from vehicles so new advances in the automotive sector as well as the incorporation of electric vehicles will reduce pollution levels. In addition, load and route optimization, such as reducing travel distance, could help to the amount of CO2 emissions.
Green logistics connects the environmental issue with logistic activities; thus it is obvious that other parts of logistics are involved. In the terms of packaging, eco-friendly packages could be used in deliveries and reusable materials could be returned when the transportation is all completed.
Today we are going to find out what the black swan theory means, how it affects the economy and the society overall and several examples of how the black swan events have changed the words.
The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an events like the economic downturn and pandemic that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and often change the direction of politics, the economy and business, and influence the course of history. Even though,the black swan events are often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
The Black Pestilence in the 1300s destroyed the feudal system in Europe, replacing it with more modern hiring relationships. Only three centuries later, the deep economic crisis caused by the Hundred Years War between England and France led to a new leap of innovation that radically modernized agriculture.
SARS pandemic in 2002-2004 sped up the growth of the small company Alibaba, which traded over the Internet. Now it is a retail leader in Asia. This growth was fueled by anxiety and panic of people who tried to avoid contact with each other as much as possible – almost the same as what we see now.
The 2008 financial crisis also contributed to new technologies. In Western countries, companies like Airbnb and Uber instantly became popular, because in times of crisis, people tried to save on everything: arrange joint living and group for trips.
The video game industry has taken the trend and has also dramatically changed course. In 2011, thanks to Nexon in Asia and King in the West, free games with in-game purchases began to develop rapidly.
With the advent of Covid-19, we already see the first signs of how consumer and company behavior is changing. Airline profits are falling due to travel denials, stocks of drugs, cereals and toilet paper are running out in retail chains, and work at home is becoming the norm.
Some of these changes are a direct but short-term reaction to the crisis. All this will return to normal after defeating the coronavirus. However, some changes will remain, creating the basis for long-term innovation, and will dictate the business environment for many years to come.
Interesting fact: in the opposite to my personal opinion, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the inventor of the “black swan” definition considers black swans to be an unforeseen events that have significant consequences for the economy. At his point of view,the COVID pandemic could have been prevented, so it may be called a white swan, rather a black one.
This is how Mercadona employees call their logistics center located in León. This logistics center receives this name due to its commitment to technology so that employees do not have to make physical efforts during their workday. In the next post I am going to show you what I have learned about how this large 80000m2 facility works.
To get an idea of its distribution, this logistics center consists of 4 warehouses: one for dry products, one for cold products, one for frozen products and one for packaging. In addition, they have a bread factory. It employs 400 employees, of the 100 are dedicated to maintenance activities and the other 300 to supervision.
How do they work?
When they receive the trucks with the products, they separate the products into two categories, the products with high turnover and the products with less rotation. Products with a high turnover do not undergo any manipulation, they are directly sent to the stores as they arrive.
However, the products with less turnover go through several processes before being sent to the stores since the stores hardly have a warehouse because what matters is that the products are in view of the consumer, so they have to distribute it in boxes. First, a machine disassembles the pallet that contains only one product.
Second, each box is associated with a chip so that you have full control over its location. Later the product box is associated with other boxes of other products that will form the pallet that goes to the stores (each store has different interests, so each pallet is different), this process is called ‘wedding’.
Finally, another high-tech machine that knows the size of each product, places the boxes appropriately on the pallet based on their volume and fragility. After this step, the pallet is ready to be shipped. This entire process reduces 75% the time on the work that employees did manually.
As employees assure, the most complex thing about these centers is that the materials and information flow properly.
In addition, as additional information, to get an idea of the magnitude of this logistics center, each day they receive 1,000 trucks and are responsible for distributing the products to 110 stores in 4 different autonomous communities such as Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León.
Studying the warehousing slides for the exam, I realised that some of the equipment used in warehousing is long-standing. For that reason, looking for latest technologies and how to include them in the warehouse I found the existence of the smart glasses.
Smart glasses, also known as vision picking, enable employees of the warehouse to work having their hands free in order to do their operations easier. This is not the only advantage of these glasses, in fact, productivity can improve around 15 percent on average, and it is not necessary any infrastructure to use them.
But, how do these smart glasses work? Employees see in their glasses a visual display with the picking instructions including information about the progress, location, quantity or the next pick. Virtual reality also shows where the items should be located freeing workers from reading papers or devices so they can work more comfortably. In addition to be a faster, more accurate and efficient system than traditional methods, the usability of the smart glasses is simple and intuitive so onboarding and training times can be reduced.
One example of the implementation of vision picking in warehousing operations is the DHL warehouse in the Netherlands, as it is explained in the video.
As a habitant of this world, one can recognize that the Coronavirus is affecting the world’s economies, however this is not the unique crisis that nowadays threats the global economy. Before the boom of the pandemic there were clues which indicated that the oil was about to suffer a price crisis due to the disagreements between the producer countries members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia.
Then, at the begging of the Covid-19 juncture the prices of the hydrocarbon started to drop also, so, these crises mixed and created an atmosphere of economic uncertainty for developing and developed countries. But how these crises interact one each other? Well the answer relies in the fact that both Russia and Saudi Arabia “opened the tap” in the production and started a price-war in a moment where the world is not demanding such amount of petroleum due to the coronavirus disease.
A long-lasting war is not affordable for small producers or high-cost producers like the United States. Additionally, the oil-based developing economies are facing challenges because with the current prices and lack of demand there is not enough money neither to cover the demands of a confined population nor paying the international debt. The analysts consider that in April some 6 million barrels per day might literally have nowhere to go.
However, the countries do not want to be the first ones in turning off the production even when they are having loses, that could mean a supply glut so overwhelming that the world won’t have enough space to store it. Since the warehousing systems are designed to move the merchandise rather than store it for a long time; Goldman Sachs says that “the facilities, terminals, ships and pipelines could reach the capacity for the first time since 1998”.
This represents a challenge to the international logistic, which is trying to find ways to storage the oil which is not being sold in the market but that stills coming like if it was. For that purpose, the option of using the crude carrier vessels as floating storage, although these ones will not cover all the space needed to keep the potential surplus. The market recovery seems to be far, but the reality is that while the world fights back the Covid-19, there are other crisis that also threat the economy.
Because of the pandemic, flights that have not been canceled at all are only operated with a couple of passengers on board.
Apart from obvious financial losses and environmental concerns, flying on empty aircraft causes other problems. For example, purely physical problems – related to weight and balance.
When only a few people fly, passengers are either evenly seated in the cabin or added to the luggage compartment to balance their weight.
In a highly simplified scheme, the aircraft is arranged like a giant swing. By default, the center of gravity of the aircraft is near the main landing gear. But in fact it turns out that the center of gravity of a particular aircraft on a particular flight can shift – because of the passengers, luggage, fuel. The center of gravity changes even during one flight.
Before departure the operator calculates the take-off weight – he takes into account the weight of the empty aircraft, passengers, luggage, cargo and fuel. This is to determine the center of gravity of the aircraft as accurately as possible.
For example, the Embraer E175 has engines in front of its wings, so its center of gravity is closer to the front of the aircraft. As the fuel burns, it shifts towards its tail.
Before departure, the airline’s dispatcher gives the pilot a special uniform that indicates how many passengers will fly, in which part of the cabin – front, middle or rear – they will sit, how much luggage they have and where exactly they will load it. Taking all this information and many other important factors (e.g. the angle of flap deviation) into account, the computer calculates the centre of gravity and take-off speed. Large aircraft such as the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 usually have no weight or balance problems even when the aircraft is almost empty – if passengers are evenly distributed throughout the cabin. But crews of not so big cars quite often have to transfer passengers.