Quotulatiousness

February 21, 2018

British KFC outlets fall fowl of distribution fustercluck

Filed under: Britain, Business — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The BBC reports on recent supply disruptions that have forced the majority of British KFC restaurants to close or run reduced hours:

KFC says some of the outlets which had to close when delivery problems meant they ran out of chicken have reopened.

Latest figures show that 470 of the fast-food chain’s 900 outlets in its UK-based division were shut as of 13:00 on Tuesday.

That compares with 575 that were closed at 21:00 on Monday.

Last week, the fried chicken chain switched its delivery contract to DHL, which has blamed “operational issues” for the supply disruption.

Earlier a KFC spokesperson said: “We anticipate the number of closures will reduce today [Tuesday] and over the coming days as our teams work flat out all hours to clear the backlog.

“Each day more deliveries are being made, however, we expect the disruption to some restaurants to continue over the remainder of the week, meaning some will be closed and others operating with a reduced menu or shortened hours.”

[…]

Until 13 February, KFC’s chicken was delivered by specialist food distribution group Bidvest.

But after the contract switched to DHL, many of the food giant’s outlets began running out of chicken products.

The GMB union said it had tried to warn KFC that switching from Bidvest to DHL was a mistake. The change led to 255 job losses and the closure of a Bidvest depot, said Mick Rix, GMB national officer.

He said: “Bidvest are specialists – a food distribution firm with years of experience. DHL are scratching around for any work they can get, and undercut them.

“KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL try and run the whole operation out of one distribution centre. Three weeks ago, KFC knew they had made a terrible mistake, but by then it was too late.”

Signs posted in a KFC store window in Nottingham
Photo from the Nottingham Post (click image to read their article)

H/T to Jim Guthrie, who said “I suspect that this will be a ‘how not to do it’ example in delivery logistics for years to come.”

September 10, 2017

Barbarossa: Why such high Soviet Losses? – Explained

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Russia, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 Jun 2017

The Red Army suffered heavy losses during Operation Barbarossa, but it also inflicted heavy losses on the Wehrmacht. This means it was not just some helpless giant, but it also begs the questions, why were the losses so high? This video discusses several factors and refers heavily to current academic research namely from Alexander Hill and David Stahel.

Military History Visualized provides a series of short narrative and visual presentations like documentaries based on academic literature or sometimes primary sources. Videos are intended as introduction to military history, but also contain a lot of details for history buffs. Since the aim is to keep the episodes short and comprehensive some details are often cut.

August 17, 2017

The Most Important Invention You Never Thought About

Filed under: Business, Economics, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 Jul 2017

One entrepreneur’s invention cut world poverty and revolutionized manufacturing. Learn more with Steve Davies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QLoeehMw0w&list=PL-erRSWG3IoBe1BsaqgTwYx0nS4nl2m_N&index=2

LEARN MORE:
How to Sabotage Progress (video): During the earliest part of the Industrial Revolution, workers worried about losing their jobs to machinery would throw their shoes into the machines in order to sabotage production. We’re seeing recurrence of sabotage again today, but there’s no more successful saboteur than regulation. Duke University Professor Michael C. Munger explains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0nSiwnbv4o

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (book): Economist Marc Levinson delves into the history of the shipping container and how the invention changed the world. https://www.amazon.ca/Box-Shipping-Container-Smaller-Economy/dp/0691170819/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1502034038&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Box:+How+the+Shipping+Container&linkCode=ll1&tag=quotulatiousn-20&linkId=ca8f280248e61c2c42aaae2b3c5f1395

An Awesome Map of World Trade and Shipping (article): Daniel Bier uses UCL Energy Institute’s timelapse of global shipping to illustrate spontaneous order. https://fee.org/articles/an-awesome-map-of-world-trade-and-shipping/

TRANSCRIPT:
For a full transcript please visit: http://www.learnliberty.org/videos/the-most-importa%E2%80%A6er-thought-about/

June 14, 2017

Canada’s Next Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Ship – Episode 3

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on Jun 9, 2017

The third episode in a series about the construction and operation of the Royal Canadian Navy’s next naval support ship.

December 4, 2016

Canada’s Next Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Ship – Episode 2

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on Nov 28, 2016

The second installment of the documentary following the build of Canada’s new Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Ship. Episode 2 follows the journey of Davie, its workers and partners from May to November 2016 as they build the largest ship that will operate in the Royal Canadian Navy fleet.

June 21, 2016

World War 1 in Numbers I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Cancon, Europe, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 20 Jun 2016

Special thanks to Karim Theilgaard for composing the the new theme for our brand new intro!

We are approaching the 100th regular episode and decided to surprise you with an extra special episode about the staggering numbers of World War 1.

May 13, 2016

QotD: The boring efficiency of North American freight railways

Filed under: Business, Economics, Quotations, Railways, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The US rail system, unlike nearly every other system in the world, was built (mostly) by private individuals with private capital. It is operated privately, and runs without taxpayer subsidies. And, it is by far the greatest rail system in the world. It has by far the cheapest rates in the world (1/2 of China’s, 1/8 of Germany’s). But here is the real key: it is almost all freight.

As a percentage, far more freight moves in the US by rail (vs. truck) than almost any other country in the world. Europe and Japan are not even close. Specifically, about 40% of US freight moves by rail, vs. just 10% or so in Europe and less than 5% in Japan. As a result, far more of European and Japanese freight jams up the highways in trucks than in the United States. For example, the percentage of freight that hits the roads in Japan is nearly double that of the US.

You see, passenger rail is sexy and pretty and visible. You can build grand stations and entertain visiting dignitaries on your high-speed trains. This is why statist governments have invested so much in passenger rail — not to be more efficient, but to awe their citizens and foreign observers.

But there is little efficiency improvement in moving passengers by rail vs. other modes. Most of the energy consumed goes into hauling not the passengers themselves, but the weight of increasingly plush rail cars. Trains have to be really, really full all the time to make for a net energy savings for high-speed rail vs. cars or even planes, and they seldom are full. I had a lovely trip on the high speed rail last summer between London and Paris and back through the Chunnel — especially nice because my son and I had the rail car entirely to ourselves both ways.

The real rail efficiency comes from moving freight. As compared to passenger rail, more of the total energy budget is used moving the actual freight rather than the cars themselves. Freight is far more efficient to move by rail than by road, but only the US moves a substantial amount of its freight by rail. One reason for this is that freight and high-speed passenger traffic have a variety of problems sharing the same rails, so systems that are optimized for one tend to struggle serving the other.

Freight is boring and un-sexy. Its not a government function in the US. So intellectuals tend to ignore it, even though it is the far more important, from an energy and environmental standpoint, portion of transport to put on the rails.

Warren Meyer, “The US Has The Best Rail System in the World, and Matt Yglesias Actually Pointed Out the Reason”, Coyote Blog, 2016-05-02.

December 30, 2014

The humble pallet … and a shipping revolution

Filed under: Business, Economics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

It’s very easy to let your eye skip over the humble pallet, yet it represents a huge improvement in how products get from the factory to you:

The magic of these pallets is the magic of abstraction. Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a “unit load” — standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century. Studies have estimated that pallets consume 12 to 15 percent of all lumber produced in the US, more than any other industry except home construction.

Some pallets also carry an aesthetic charge. It’s mostly about geometry: parallel lines and negative space, slats and air. There is also the appeal of the raw, unpainted wood, the cheapest stuff you can buy from a lumber mill — “bark and better,” it’s called. These facts have not escaped the notice of artists, architects, designers, or DIY enthusiasts. In 2003, the conceptual artist Stuart Keeler presented stacks of pallets in a gallery show, calling them “the elegant serving-platters of industry”; more recently, Thomas Hirschhorn featured a giant pallet construction as part of his Gramsci Monument. Etsy currently features dozens of items made from pallets, from window planters and chaise lounges to more idiosyncratic artifacts, such as a decorative teal crucifix mounted on a pallet. If shipping containers had their cultural moment a decade ago, pallets are having theirs now.

Since World War II, most of America’s pallet needs have been met by several thousand small and mid-sized businesses. These form the nucleus of not just an industry, but a sprawling, anarchic ecosystem — a world, really, complete with its own customs, language, and legends, with a political class, with its own media. This world is known as “whitewood.” There are approximately forty thousand citizens of whitewood, ranging from pallet pickers (who salvage pallets from the trash) to pallet recyclers (who repair broken pallets and make them whole) to pallet manufacturers, pallet consultants, pallet academics, pallet thieves, and pallet association presidents. Whitewood includes people who crisscross the country selling pallet repair machinery, preaching the gospel of tools such as the Rogers Un-Nailer.

Not all pallets belong to the world of whitewood. The most important other category — and whitewood’s chief antagonist — is the blue pallet. These blues are not just a different color; they are also built differently, and play by different rules, and for the past twenty-five years, the conflict between blue and white has been the central theme in the political economy of American pallets. The person most identified with this conflict is a soft-spoken, middle-aged man from Kansas named Bob Moore. Currently embroiled in a legal battle over a pallet deal gone bad, Moore is a singular figure in the industry and a magnet for controversy. When not in federal court, he can sometimes be found piloting a Mooney Acclaim Type S airplane, which he prefers, when possible, to flying commercial. The Mooney is a good place to concentrate, one imagines. And it is important to concentrate when plotting the future of pallets.

March 8, 2014

RCN’s Joint Support Ships behind schedule and over budget

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:07

Terry Milewski reports on the state of Canada’s shipbuilding program for the Royal Canadian Navy, and it’s not pretty:

An internal government memo obtained by CBC News shows that all four parts of the government’s huge shipbuilding program are either over budget, behind schedule, or both.

Written Oct. 7 last year by the deputy minister of national defence, Richard Fadden, the memo shows that three of those four programs also face “major challenges” of a technical nature, as well as difficulties lining up skilled manpower to get the ships built at all.

The memo, released to the CBC following an Access to Information request, leaves little doubt that Canada’s crippled supply ship, HMCS Protecteur, won’t be replaced before the year 2020.

The spectacle of the 46-year-old Protecteur, Canada’s only supply ship in the Pacific, being towed into Honolulu after an engine-room fire has thrown the lack of a replacement into sharp focus. Although there’s a plan to build two new supply ships, there’s no sign the work will even begin until late 2016. That means a new one won’t enter service until the end of the decade.

JSS and AOPS building status March 2014

A chart summarizing the state of the shipbuilding effort uses green and yellow squares to indicate where those problems are — the green meaning, on track, and yellow meaning, trouble — and there’s a lot of yellow.

For the Joint Support Ships — that’s the pair of supply ships — the chart shows trouble with both the schedule and the price. The memo explains that this means the program is up to 20 per cent behind schedule and up to 10 per cent over budget.

As I’ve said many times before, the Canadian government is managing to get the least possible bang for the buck on shipbuilding because they view the shipbuilding program as a regional economic development scheme (and a way of funneling money to marginal constituencies) rather than as an essential part of keeping the RCN properly equipped. It’s pretty obvious in this case:

Take the supply ships. “Yellow” suggests they’re over budget, but doesn’t indicate what the budget should be. But comparisons with Canada’s allies could raise eyebrows even further.

Britain, for example, opted to build its four new naval supply ships much more cheaply, at the Daewoo shipyard in South Korea. The contract is for roughly $1.1 billion Cdn. That’s for all four. By contrast, Canada plans to build just two ships, in Vancouver, for $1.3 billion each. So Canada’s ships will be roughly five times more costly than the British ones.

But there’s a twist. Canada’s supply ships will also carry less fuel and other supplies, because they’ll be smaller — about 20,000 tonnes. The U.K. ships are nearly twice as big — 37,000 tonnes. Canadians will lay out a lot more cash for a lot less ship.

August 1, 2013

Efficiency in loading is key to container ship logistics

Filed under: Economics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:26

In Wired, Bryan Gardiner extracts some key knowledge from the folks who load those giant container ships:

Loading a container ship

Container ships are the pack mules of global trade, and journalist Rose George’s new book, Ninety Percent of Everything, is the latest look at how the steel boxes full of solids, liquids, and gases get to where they’re going. One huge challenge, George says, is simply loading and unloading these giant ships, a task that calls on physics, chemistry, and a knowledge of pirate tactics.

1 // Minimize the number of crane moves. Algorithms and computer systems help plan the most efficient and practical storage schemes so ships can get in and out of port fast.

2 // Cold boxes need juice. Refrigerated containers — or “reefers” — must be placed near a power source.

3 // Guard your vessel. Containers are sealed after inspection, but thieves can use simple tools to get around the seals and pop open the doors.

4 // Heaviest boxes go down low. This prevents the stack from collapsing. And they’re distributed as evenly as possible to keep the ship balanced.

July 18, 2013

The cost of withdrawal

Filed under: Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:14

A couple of days ago, I posted an item on the costs of removing military equipment from Afghanistan (that is, due to lack of direct port access, thousands of tons of gear have to be flown out at an eye-watering $14,000 per ton). The Washington Post had an article yesterday discussing the customs dispute between the US military and the Afghan government which is making the situation even more fraught:

An escalating dispute between the Afghan government and the United States over customs procedures has halted the flow of U.S. military equipment across Afghanistan’s borders, forcing commanders to rely more heavily on air transport, which has dramatically increased the cost of the drawdown, according to military officials.

The Afghan government is demanding that the U.S. military pay $1,000 for each shipping container leaving the country that does not have a corresponding, validated customs form. The country’s customs agency says the American military has racked up $70 million in fines.

If left unresolved, the disagreement could inflate the price tag of the U.S. military drawdown by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars because of the higher cost of shipping by air — an unwelcome expenditure at a time when the Pentagon is scrambling to cope with steep congressionally mandated budget cuts and the White House is attempting to jump-start negotiations over a long-term security cooperation deal with Kabul.

The Afghan government’s demand for payment is part of a broader dispute over Kabul’s authority to tax entities from the United States, its chief benefactor. As the war economy that for years bankrolled Afghanistan’s political elite starts to deflate, the government is increasingly insisting that U.S. defense contractors pay business taxes and fines for a range of alleged violations.

H/T to Doug Mataconis who also wrote:

We invaded Afghanistan, arguably liberating them from the grip of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. We’ve spent ten years or so fighting to protect the government of Hamid Karzai from those same forces. And now they want to charge us to leave? Surely, this is a first, isn’t it? On the other hand, I can see a benefit here. If we knew going into a war that we’d have to pay money to get out at the end perhaps we’d be less willing to start it.

July 15, 2013

Expensive military gear to become piles of scrap

Filed under: Economics, Military, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Strategy Page explains why billions of dollars in military equipment will be scrapped in Afghanistan:

It’s going to cost some $14 billion to deal with $26 billion worth of American equipment in Afghanistan. Half that cost will be for shipping gear out, but the other $7 billion will be the cost of equipment not worth shipping home and either destroyed or donated to the Afghans. About 78,000 tons of gear will be destroyed, including over 2,000 armored vehicles. Some has to be moved, given to the Afghan security forces, sold locally or destroyed. About 9,000 MRAPs will be sent back to the United States.

Unlike Iraq, where heavy stuff, like armored vehicles and trucks, could simply drive to a nearby port and put on a ship, Afghanistan has no ports. The nearest ones are in Pakistan and the road trip is expensive and dangerous because of the theft and the threat of attacks (by terrorists or gangsters seeking “protection” fees). So a lot more gear will be flown out of Afghanistan, which is quite expensive. The current plan calls for 28,000 vehicles and 20,000 shipping containers of gear are to be moved by the end of 2014.

The U.S. and NATO supplies coming in (or going out) via railroad from Western Europe, go through Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, to Afghanistan. This approach costs $400 a ton to move material to or from Afghanistan, versus three times that to truck it in from Pakistani ports, or $14,000 a ton to fly stuff in, or $10,000 a ton if you just fly material in from a friendly (Persian Gulf) port. For example, $600,000 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) cost $140,000 to fly in from the Gulf. Some 2,000 of these MRAPs in Afghanistan are no longer needed by the United States or the Afghan forces so are being cut up for scrap in Afghanistan.

May 4, 2013

Why the terror-through-shipping-container threat has not materialized (yet)

Filed under: Business, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:11

Strategy Page explains why the much-discussed threat of terrorists smuggling in weapons of mass destruction using the ubiquitous shipping container has not actually happened:

A decade ago there was much talk about how vulnerable the United States was to a terror attack via shipping container. It never happened. It’s also unlikely because of the large number of variables the terrorists face. The problems associated with using cargo containers to move a nuclear or conventional bomb are manifold. The big problem is that these containers often don’t arrive right on schedule. Sometimes the ship breaks down or encounters bad weather. This last event leads to thousands of containers a year falling off cargo ships and going to the bottom with their cargo. Sometimes containers get lost “in the system.” More frequently containers get robbed or opened by mistake. Customs officials open a small percentage (this varies by port) for inspection. Another problem, whether the bomb goes off or not, is the fact that containers have to have documentation like bills of lading and such. These can be faked, but the problem is that a paper trail is being created and that can lead to terrorists getting arrested. All containers must officially belong to someone, they are tracked and any that aren’t being tracked tend to get noticed. Many countries do scrutinize containers coming from certain countries in an attempt to catch people smuggling drugs or arms. Large bombs, be they nuclear or conventional, are relatively fragile and may not survive (in working condition) the punishment received during a long sea voyage. If all that weren’t enough to make terrorists nervous, container ships can be delayed when trying to enter a port because of congestion. This can delay arrival by days, or even weeks.

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