Friday, November 23, 2007

When computers don't bollox things up

When I tell someone that I work in "logistics", their eyes glaze over and the subject moves on to something else - rapidly. If I become insistent and actually explain what it means, they usually assume I am mad.

So it was nice to read an article in the Financial Times on logistics. The delivery of goods. But what delighted me even more was that the process described including an element of "reverse logistics" which is what makes up a major part of my working life.

So I was very excited about this. I know. What the heck am I on about? Well, most logistics operations involve simply delivering product from its source to the customer. There is sometimes a small element of reverse logistics involved in faulty returns. In my work, there is a huge reverse loop. Computer parts are swapped then taken back for repair and reissued for further repairs.

The article in the Financial Times was by Sarah Murray about the "dabbawallahs" in Mumbai.

Everyday, they get curries from their point of production in myriad home kitchens and deliver them to people in offices (bearing in mind that each curry is specially made for each recipient) and then get the flasks back to their respective kitchen for the next day.

It is actually a remarkably complex operation involving train journies and carts. But, my goodness me, it all works beautifully and, of course, the main reason it all works is because it doesn't involve what normally bolloxes up (technical term) most logistics operations:

A blinking computer!

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