August 2009


Have you ever wondered about how Italian ice cream was invented – before electricity? Or, the significance of eggs at Easter? Ice cream reaches back in time to the Egyptians; the Mughals and 5th century Greeks with their snow mixed with honey and fruit. And hens always laid their eggs from April to June when their body clock said so. For most of recorded history, eggs were a springtime crop and, that’s where it starts.

Where am I going with this? The perishable supply chain combines technology to conquer borders and distance but we need to understand the dislocation involved in local communities and the environment itself. For example, as the Indian middle class grows so too does the demand for quality fruits and vegetables. Recently, in Delhi, I met with a company that is developing an impressive network of orchards up in the foothills of the Himalayas. This will take time so, there are plans to source apples and other quality fruits from … Chile.   (more…)

So there we are in a village in Tamil Nadu when someone asks the question what is logistics? How can it transform our lives? As ever, we search for a bit of local context to make the point …

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Hinduism has 330 million or so divas (gods); those knowable aspects of the formless phenomenon, Brahma. Some personify natural phenomena, evil forces or even a  disease; some are humans deified and others, the local deities of a town or a village. The gods are many headed , many limbed and often fantastical but despite this superficial polytheism there is an underlying belief in a single deity that drives the rest.

The Gods appear as pairs … [hang in there, we will get to Logistics in a moment] … and the male aspect needs the female, his shakti (consort) to be complete. And each god and goddess has a vahana, a creature considered the vehicle on which they ride. (more…)

McKinsey have published an important insight into increasing the energy efficiency of supply chains. Starting from the fact that 15 million barrels of oil per day – that’s 20% of total production – is used to move things around globally, the study highlights six levers that can make significant impacts on energy efficiency. See: McKinsey (August 2009).

The levers work within three oil price scenarios and focus supply chain set up (from increasing value densities; reducing transport distances and switching modes) to the transport assets themselves (improve design and technology; maximise usage and improve infrastructure).

The levers are well documented. However, several issues remain untouched and the report would be improved by considering: (more…)