jueves, 4 de febrero de 2016

The logistics of the future: Driver-less cars

One emerging technology that has been getting a lot of hype in the past few years is the self-driving car.
Not long ago driver-less cars seemed more something taken from a science fiction movie than a reality, but in the year 2016 as a result of increasing sophistication of computer navigation, GPS technology and camera technology, driver-less cars are a reality and multi million dollar companies like Google or Apple have been investing in the development of the technology that will send the majority of car and truck drivers to the dole office.
The logistics industry will probably be one of the first training grounds for such automated vehicles and shipping companies will probably adopt the technology faster than other industries.
But have you ever wondered what will be the impact of driver-less cars and trucks on the logistics field in general? Below you can see a few aspects that most defiantly will be affected:

- Safety: Improved safety driven by a reduction in human errors
- Lower environment impact: Driven by fewer vehicles on the road and more efficient fuel consumption
- Higher efficiency: By allowing trucks to travel 24/7 without requiring rest time
- Warehousing operations: through technology like autonomous loading, auto pallet movers and assisted order picking (we talk about this in another post that you can read here)
-  Last mile delivery
- Reduce drive shortage in the trucking industry:
- Costs savings: Some of them include: labor costs through the reduction of drivers, fuel consumption through a more efficient drive, vehicle utilization and insurance cost.

If you want to go in depth, I’d recommend you to read the below report by DHL that really go into detail:

DHL driver less cars report

And for those still reluctant to believe that this is coming, and I can tell you it’s coming soon, watch out!

miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

Logistionary: Jidoka

Logistionary is back with new terms, definitions and concepts! And today it’s the turn for Jidoka.
For those of you that are familiarised with this term, there is still a lot to learn from this entry, for those that have never heard of Jidoka, watch out for what is one of the most important terms within the lean manufacturing environment.
First off, what is Jidoka, and why most of these terms have Japanese names?
Jidoka is the often forgotten pillar of the Toyota Production system but yet one of the most important, and the one that actually was a breakthrough in terms of achieving true excellence in manufacture.

Now, why most of these terms have Japanese names? Well, because they all actually were coined by the same person, Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, and the person that revolutionised the rudimentary logistic processes of that time. 

Coming back to the term that concerns us; Jidoka began with the invention of a simple device that could stop the shuttle on an automatic loom should the thread broke. This will prevent the machine from not only creating defects but also alerted the operator of a problem. This meant that now the operator could operate several machines at the same time and not only focus on just one in case something went wrong. This principle became known as “automation with a human touch”

Jidoka is based in 4 very simple principles:
  1. Discover an abnormality
  2. Stop
  3. Fix the immediate problem
  4. Investigate the root cause and correct

These principles are not just confined to use of machines, but they are visible in almost every aspect of lean manufacturing. It’s about building quality into a process rather than having to inspect the outcome at the end of the process.
Every individual in a lean company is allowed and actually is expected to stop the process should they discover an abnormality, this way problems are highlighted and actions to solve them are taken. This is a concept many western companies find hard to implement as they fear a loss in productivity derived from lines being constantly stopped. This fear however undermines the core principle of Jidoka which is investigating the root causes of problems and working on tackling them.
Even though stopping the lines might seem contra intuitive, in the long term the number of line stops begins to reduce as problems are removed and productivity begins to improve as root causes of problems are removed.
Within companies such as Toyota line stop is a way of life, if an operator detects a problem they pull a cord or push a button to stop the production line at the end of that production cycle. This alerts the team leader or supervisor who will immediately rush over to help solve the problem. If it can be easily corrected then they do so and restart the line, otherwise they call in whatever support is required to solve the problem.
The major obstacle to implement Jidoka and any other lean principles is the fear of the short term implications when stopping the lines, but once this concerns are overcame Jidoka has proven to be a major advantage in adding value and increasing productivity across all lines.
I hope you enjoyed this entry and you learnt something new. Watch this space for more interesting concepts in the near future!

viernes, 30 de octubre de 2015

Singapore, world's busiest port!

A while ago, I posted one of the most amazing time lapse videos I have ever seen; you can find it here.

It´s fascinating the way every single container is organized, and it´s impressive the levels of coordination achieved to ensure every single one of them reaches its final destination in time.

Since Singapore is one of my favorite cities and the video about its port gave me a sneak peek of what I thought at that time was one of the most magnificent engineering infrastructure, I couldn´t resist posting a new entry when I found an episode of Megastructures dedicated to the busiest port in the world!

It didn´t let me down, absolutely astonishing!

domingo, 4 de octubre de 2015

Logistics behind 2015 rugby World Cup

The rugby World Cup is on! Whether you are a true rugby fan or a mere spectator, you must agree that rugby is one of the most beautiful sports in the world, and that the world cup deserves all the media attention it generates.

The hostages have been kicked out, and now a new debate starts after what has been named the biggest humiliation in home turf ever. Will Stuart Lancaster resign? Should he have picked a different team? It´s time now to recap and look back to ensure the rugby team don´t have to confront a tiles drought like the football team has been facing since 1966.

Since the World Cup is by far the biggest rugby event in the world, surpassing any other competition including the 6 Nations it´s safe to say that the logistic the organisation of a tournament like this requires is phenomenal.

German logistics company DHL has been chosen as the Official Logistics Partner of the 2015 rugby World Cup. One of the world’s leading logistics provider is undertaking one of its largest challenges ever in the UK to help deliver the year’s biggest international sporting event to millions of fans around the world.

DHL will be handling the logistics for the 19 teams taking part in the competition. Throughout the tournament, more than 48 tonnes of material will be transported from their origin countries to the UK, from match kids, scrum machines to tackle bags and all sort of digital equipment. On top of that all the material will need to be delivered to the 13 match venues.

Ken Allen, CEO at DHL has been planning meticulously this event for the last two years to ensure the ultimate rugby competition in the world is a success on and off the pitch.

If there is a company in the world with the resources and skills to deliver a seamless service, this is DHL. The world´s largest courier company has been instrumental in helping to fulfill the complex logistics requirements for the rugby World Cup and has been praised by both the organizers and the teams involved in the tournament.

It amazes me the level of organization and dedication that these extremely complex events require and how most of the time we give for granted the work behind the scenes required to deliver one of the biggest events in the year´s calendar.

With one of the favourites, not to say the favourite to win the tournament out, it´s time to raise the stakes. Will the south teams take over the traditional European teams in the home of rugby? Will find out in a month!

domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Logistionary: Heijunka

Heijunka means sequencing or smoothing of production. It has been definied as: “Leveling the type and quantity of production over a fixed period of time. This enables production to efficiently meet customer demands while avoiding batching and results in minimum inventories, capital costs, manpower, and production lead time through the whole value stream”.

The goal of this technique developed by Toyota as a mean to standardise work, is to produce intermediate goods at a constant rate so that further processing may also be carried out at a constant and predictable rate. This is achieved by switching from a line dedicated to a single product, which is therefore sensitive to sales variations, to a flexible line capable of manufacturing several types of product.

Some of the advantages of leveling production are:

  • Flexibility to make what the customer wants when they want it.
  • Reduced risk of unsold goods.
  • Balanced use of labor and machines.
  • Smoothed demand on the upstream processes and suppliers

The video below explains in detail production levelling, but if you still want a more thorough explanation check the second video out!

lunes, 27 de julio de 2015

Logistionary: Poka-yoke

Today we are starting a new section in this blog that I have wittily named “logistionary”. As I couldn’t find a decent way to link Supply Chain and Dictionary (supplychainary didn’t really sound great to me to be honest) I came up with logistics + dictionary which has by far a more harmonious sound!
To the point; every fortnight, as you could have imagined, I will try to present a term or a concept related to supply chain. You might know some of these terms but I’m certain you won’t know all of them. Terms like Kanban, Hoshin, Kaizen, Heijunka and many others will be defined and explained.
To open this new section, I’m please to introduce you to the concept of Poka-yoke.
Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing" and it was adopted and introduced as part of the Toyota Production System.
Poka-yoke is any mechanism, either visual or physical, that helps an equipment operator avoiding mistakes. Its objective is to prevent, warn or correct possible human errors when operating the piece of equipment by eliminating product defects.
The focus is on:
-          Make harder to create the error
-          Make possible to reverse the error
-          Make obvious that the error has occurred
The aim of Poka-yoke is to design products and process so that mistakes can be detected and corrected immediately, eliminating defects at the source.
Zero defects is an important term firstly because it drives customer satisfaction and consequently customer loyalty what will result in more sales and secondly because by eliminating defects we are reducing costs.
In the two videos below you can find several examples of Poka-yoke. The second video will also show you the difference between soft and hard Poka-yoke, and will give you an idea of how Poka-yoke applies to appliances we use every day.
Keep an eye on the blog for our next term!

domingo, 14 de junio de 2015

edX Supply Chain fundamentals course by MIT

Not long ago, platforms like Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) or edX (https://www.edx.org/) started offering the possibility to enroll free courses, ranging from Law to Arts, Management, Sports and many more.
Since then thousands of people have had the opportunity to develop their skills, I’m among those thousands, and currently I’m working through passing the first of three courses offered by edX and focused on Supply Chain Management.

This first Course (CTL.SC1x Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals) runs for eleven weeks and covers all the basics of Supply Chain focusing on three main areas Demand Forecasting, Inventory Management, and Transportation Planning.

If you have the time and interest, this first course developed by the MIT presents each of the above topics in a clear and very structured way, including examples and assignments that will help you get the foundation you need to accomplish the following two courses.

Below you can see the Course schedule, taken from the edX website should you are interested in starting the course.
  •   Overview of SCM
An overview of supply chain management perspectives, core concepts, and basic approaches. It is a chance to get familiar with the edX platform, the discussion forum, and the course materials.
  •   Forecasting I: Introduction  
We introduce demand management and focus specifically on demand forecasting. We will develop and use basic time series models.
  • Forecasting II: Exponential Smoothing
We will expand the use of time series models to include Exponential Smoothing. We will develop and test different model forms for stationary, trend, and seasonality patterns.
  • Forecasting IV: Causal Analysis & Special Cases
We introduce ordinary least squares regression that can be used for causal analysis. We finish the Forecasting section by discussing two special cases: intermittent demand and new product forecasting.
  • Inventory I: Overview & Deterministic Demand
The inventory section opens up with the simplest inventory model: the Economic Order Quantity (EOQ)
  • Inventory II: Stock Outs & Single Period Models
We now expand from our initial assumptions of deterministic and constant demand to allow for stochastic or random demand. In this module we restrict the time frame to a single period and develop what is called the Newsvendor Model.
  • Inventory III: Probabilistic Demand Models
This week is spent developing and using the most common inventory policies in practice for both continuous and periodic review situations. We will spend a lot of time developing models that either minimize costs or meet a specified level of service.
  • Inventory IV: Special Cases
We will show some methods for applying these inventory models for multiple items and multiple locations at the same time. We will wrap up the inventory section by discussing some real world implications and concerns.
  •  Transportation I: Fundamentals
The transportation section focuses on understanding the fundamentals of freight transportation from a global perspective. We will show how to make routing decisions with multiple legs and demonstrate how this also applies to any mode selection. We also show how to handle uncertainty in lead-times and demonstrate how this relates back to inventory policies.
  • Transportation II: One To Many distribution
In this final transportation lesson, we introduce an approximation method for determining transportation costs. We demonstrate this approach on a common one-to-many distribution situation that most firms face. We finish this week – and the entire course – with a wrap up of the major concepts and some suggestions on using them in practice.
  • Final Exam
The final exam covers all of the material in this course.

So here you go, if you feel like you want to give it a go, just register and look for the below course!

“CTL.SC1x Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals”