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 ( or edX ( 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”


miércoles, 3 de junio de 2015

The Beer Game

Not long ago I had the opportunity to play what is one of the most famous games in the Supply Chain sphere; The Beer Game.

The Beer Game was developed in the late 1950s professor Jay Forrester. Initially it was played with pen, paper, printed plastic tablecloths, and poker chips, but nowadays there are on-line versions as well as board games. 

The Beer Game simulates the supply chain of the beer industry.The object of the game is to meet customer demand for cases of beer through the distribution side of a multi-stage supply chain with minimal expenditure on back orders and inventory. There are four units, retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and manufacturer, with a two week communication gap of orders toward the upstream and a two week supply chain delay of product towards the downstream

The goal is to keep operating costs as low as possible, teams will be penalized for having too much inventory (0.5 units per case of beer per week) or unfilled back orders (1 unit per case per week). Each link in the supply chain keeps track of its own costs, but a team’s score is the sum of these tallies. In the end, the lower the score, the better.

Usually 50 rounds (which represent weeks) are played, and to simulate the incomplete information we deal with in real life, players cannot communicate across stations. Each retailer draws a card indicating consumer demand for cases of beer; at the same time, all the units send their orders up the supply chain. In response, cases of beer, represented by poker chips, move in the opposite direction, from manufacturer to retailer. A small number of chips are already at every station when we start.

In the next video there is a detailed explanation of the game (min. 8:23) after a brief introduction on Supply Chain Management.


The principal effect shown by the Beer Game is the so called bullwhip effect. It refers to the effect that the amount of periodical orders amplifies as one move upstream in the supply chain towards the production end.

As a consequence of the bullwhip effect a range of inefficiencies occur throughout the supply chain:
  • high safety stock levels
  • poor customer service levels
  • poor capacity utilisation
  • inaccurate demand forecasting
  • high cost

The main causes of the Bullwhip effect are

  • The lack of information

In the Beer Game no information except for the order amount is shared up the supply chain, hence, most information about customer demand is quickly lost.

The game simulates supply chains with low levels of trust, where only little information is being shared between the parties and where all forecasting has to rely solely on the incoming orders at each supply chain stage. 

  •   The structure of the supply chain

The supply chain structure itself contributes to the bullwhip effect. The longer it takes for an order to travel upstream and the subsequent delivery to travel downstream, the more aggravated the bullwhip effect will be.

The next video contains an example that explains the impact of the Bullwhip effect in the stock levelsas well as shows the obstacles the Supply Chain needs to overcome to  ensure a steady flow of stock up and downstream the Supply Chain. 

Finally, if you want to experience first-hand how it feels to play the Beer Game, in thelink below there is an online version where you can test yourself!