Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cartoons as sustainability tool

Hats off to Hiroshi TAKATSUKI who draws under the Pen-name of High Moon.

Hiroshi is a Professor at the Environment Preservation Center, Kyoto Universityp

His cartoons make wonderful, thought provoking messages of the need to move to sustainability urgently.

Click on the link and enjoy and share!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Underground freight pipelines look promising for New York

The amount of material transported into and out of New York is phenomenal. A good percentage of the food New Yorkers eat comes into the city to be processed at Hunts point. Some 30,000 trucks a day enter the area. Then there are the mail and parcels, container shipments, construction works etc. Twelve thousand tons PER DAY of residential and industrial waste are picked up and compacted to be transported out of the city to landfill. The direct cost is estimated to $1 Billion. Indirect costs to the environment and health of all those trucks passing by are not included.

The report calls for six types of freight pipeline: (1) tunnel construction, (2) transporting municipal solid waste, (3) transporting mail and parcels, (4) delivering goods on pallets, (5) dispatching containers from seaports to an inland inspection/transfer station, and (6) ferrying trucks with their cargoes.

Click on the link to learn more about underground freight pipelines in New York.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Tube freight transport revisited

Just want to relate an interesting experience with image streaming (IS). I went to visualise a sustainable society which handled logistics effectively.
What I found was a city with underground tubeways, sending pallets on trucks in capsules. the trucks were powered by compressed air.

"What IS this?" I thought. Carried on anyway.

Doing my research I found that this solution was invented back in the 1800's there are many web sites on the solution and NEW YORK City has just commissioned a study on using the solution.

try this lnk

My relections. I had not heard of this before, but looking at the diagrams on the website it was just what I had envisaged in the IS. So I did not "invent" anything new. But at least I quickly learned about the solution and took it on board. So IS functions like a kind of accelerated learning.

Click on the link to learn more about Image Streaming

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Visit: Economic growth/Logistics

The question I have concerns economic development. You have to have economic development, (includes organizations balancing their books and increasing GDP) whilst a society has to drastically reduce its impact on the environment. I would like to see a society that handles reducing environmental impact drastically whilst growing economically.

I would like to visit a place that has achieved that and is good at balancing the two.

Tapescript: Economic growth/Logistics

I enter the departure lounge, again a shiny bench and rubber plant.
“So you want to do something different”” the facilitator says.

Why don’t you revisit PORENA instead? The problems are related.

(It is true I had this question as well on my list. Why I wanted to revisit PORENA was to investigate the problem of distribution and logistics, getting things to households, computer heating lighting computers TV etc.)

Not one to mistrust wild impulses in an image stream, I set off for PORENA.

Round the corner the London bus is waiting. I get onto the old-style Double Decker. The conductor rings the bell and we set off.

We travel past the side of the mountain I visited earlier. We speed along a dual carriageway and turn off into a small country lane.
I see the now familiar walled city, surrounded by hills. The bus pulls into the arrivals area and I walk off straight up the stairs to the circular walkway on the second floor.

For image streaming to work I know I must create a beachhead door. What better than the door to the logistics office which turns up on the right? I open it and enter.

It’s a rather busy office with people milling around, some looking a giant maps.

“Excuse me; can anyone explain how logistics works in this place?”

“Sure, where would you like to start?”

I look over their shoulders and the radial plans of the city.

The tubes are the best place to start.

The city has an underground system of tubes, working on a vacuum.

We start in the residential area, to visit a distribution point. It is sort of like a small hut where the goods emerge from. Under the hut is this underground pipe way.
I think the dimensions are 6 by 2 meters, or maybe handling two or four pallets.
Anything that uses a pallet can be sent that way.

“How do goods get sent here if that is their destination?” I ask.

“They are pushed out from the pipe system onto a passive conveyor belt.
Most things can be put on it furniture, etc.”

“What carries it? “ I ask. “How is it conveyed, controlled?”

The system is controlled from one distribution point. Goods arrive for example at the station and are loaded into the pipeline. The pipeline holds capsules containing the pallets. The capsules are pushed around and controlled rather like a physical version of the electronic packages that make up the Internet.

“So you transfer packages via this system of tunnel ways to this point, and people come and get them when they are available. “

“Oh yes! There is plastic over the pallet to protect it from the weather. The left-over package material goes in the other side to be sent for recycling.”

The pallet rolls down under gravity back into the pipe.

I wonder about heavy stuff. How people carry furniture etc to their houses from these points.

I see they use a hand-powered cart with fork lifts and lifting devices to carry heavy furniture to the residences. They are communal and kept in the communal storeroom.

Medium size stuff, computers etc, come the same way.

That brings me to consider the security problem.. someone else “receiving “ my package... but I get no answer just now, the whole possession thing is not cleared up in my mind.

We walk back to the control room.

I wonder how these things are propelled. Something to do with air. Are they blown along in a vacuum tube? I think I have seen a design like this for office documents. There’s a machine blowing air into the system which keeps it moving.

When it comes to its destination, a door opens and it gets shot out into the distribution point.

Is their some kind of hydraulic principle here – the way air acts hydraulically, like a big piston pushing air slowly into a narrow tube? I would have thought blowers would be the answer.

As I describe, the images become clear.

Each capsule, which fits exactly into the tube, runs on rails, pushed around by air. The capsule carries the pallets inside until it arrives at its destination. There is an electronic sender on each capsule/Pallet. The capsule shoots around the system, the sender gets points to change and airlock doors to open up.

The capsule rides along the rails 30km/h, comes to its exit, points change, track exits onto an airlock, and it pushes its load onto the passive conveyor.

I study the plan on the wall. It is not really radial, more like a mandala. One dark-haired person presents himself as an expert. I ask to see the overall layout.

Time for borrowed genius. I enter through his head into his eyes. The map on the wall shows several circles. It seems to be a continuous loop, you go from one to the other and back the other way. The capsules are controlled by radio tags.

Goods come in from where they are manufactured in the second zone, just outside the inner administrative zone. Trains come in leave stuff and take stuff. Everything is transferred to the pipeline system. Then it goes to the manufacturing area. After that it leaves for its final destination, a distribution point.

They have actually abolished parts of large goods retail as I know it. Retail’s virtual here. You order what you want and the goods go direct from manufacturing to customer. You can get what you want a little more customized that way.

Everything is assembled on site. This is to achieve a minimum of material in movements. As much as possible is done locally. We are not talking sand to silicon chips to TV. What we mean is that the final assembly is done locally. This final assembly is possible like this because of the way products are designed. Each product is assembled from a combination of modules. Assembly is done by a specialized assembly house, and the products are designed to be easily assembled in these houses.

The manufacturing area also houses component manufactures who either make components or modules. Heat is reused into the heating systems, so manufacturing is advantageous to have in cities. And you have a lot of people around who can walk there.

Tapescript notes: At this point I believe it might be advantageous to explore what one “cell” or section of the pipeway might look like so I drew a diagram.

When a capsule reaches point L1, the radio tag causes the points to switch it into the siding and up to the distribution point “Output”.
The goods are pushed onto the passive conveyor. I think the capsule, as it is on rails, is easy to manually push back into the pipeline system. For that to work all airlocks should be shut except (b). The truck rolls passively into the siding.

If someone at the input point has called a capsule, and one is detected in the siding, there is an automatic opening of airlock ( c ). Airlock (d) opens and the capsule is propelled toward the input point.

Once filled and pushed back into the system, starting with airlock (d) opening briefly to allow it to pass into the siding, as it closes (a) opens and then ( c ) to send the capsule back to the main circuit.

I leave my logistics genius and try to find someone who will help me with the propulsion system. I see a big cylinder construction from the window of the control room, and this is part of it. He takes me down near the park, to show two gigantic cylinders. Inside them there are pistons driven by an electric motor. These produce the propulsion force, not a blower.

Each exit point the main outlet airlocks. Think of the cylinders as a bicycle pump. You can run the whole system like this just on two propulsion points. The pipeline is like a cycle tyre. The role of the pumps is too keep the pressure up. I hear 3 bar (three times atmospheric) for 30 km/hr but I am no expert on this side of things.
The pressure disappears every time the doors open so the doors have to close quickly. (I see a likeness to the ghost train at the fair but say nothing.)

At the exit points gravity slows the capsules down, although they do have their own breaking systems. The capsules have low rolling resistance and can be pushed by hand. People power is good. I am reminded again of the PORENA philosophy of not taking away physical efforts from daily life, rather avoiding stressing or straining the body.

The pumps are located at strategic points around the circle.

Control is passive. A control logic is built into the system. Trucks can move around empty or be waiting at special sidings. You can always call for a truck.

Turning to a more general discussion of logistics, I get the feeling there could be actually 4-5 different types of vehicles in Porena, even motorized vehicles. Maybe we can talk about construction or rebuilding where larger things need transporting. Like construction vehicles?

They are actually not against using lorries for construction. That is where motorized vehicles come into their own; earth moving and earthworks. Anyway, Diesel engines can be run on vegetable oil for example. Large lorries can be driven on the gravel road.

Once the area is built you can use the other systems. You have the canal, which is very efficient as well.

What about daily logistics? This is what the barges on the canal are for. The shops come to you. Clothes and shoes? You pick up what you need from the barges.
Food is grown everywhere so you just go and get it. Small quantities for everything seems to be the rule but I have never really understood why. I wonder of there is not is some secret of logistics here I am missing.

If you remove roads and do not transport people you reduce transport consumption drastically So then what you have is left to transport is household goods and larger stuff via the pipeline system. You can even get a pallet delivery with a lot of household stuff if you need to stock up in bulk.

Before I leave, I am invited to ride around the system in the inspection capsule. It works just as I imagined even felt a bit like the ghost train at the funfair. In the background you could hear the “thud thud” of the cylinder propulsion system almost like a heart beat. And the airlock doors throw themselves open as you approach.

I leave with what might be more questions than I came with

End of tapescript from visit: Economic growth/Logistics

Reflections Economic growth/Logistics

What I liked … an economical, effective form of transport logistics

What surprised me… the propulsion system. And the re-thinking of product and manufacturing!

What can be used immediately… maybe this sort of thing exists already. Investigate. The re-thinking of manufacturing might contain an element of a business idea, but it is close to the way Dell works today. And Ikea.

Further questions.
How can you ride around in that...will not the pressure hurt you?
Still not resolved the possession/money/work equation!

New Invention #update: The Corporate Wellness Officer

Health is too important to be left to health professionals. Every company should have its own CWO - Chief Wellbeing Officer.

The responsibilities of the CWO:

MAXIMIZE health & well-being of employees (reduces insurance costs, increases efficiency, increases attractiveness as employer).

MAXIMIZE health promotion of products and services, that is to say maximize the health promotion properties of your product or service. This means customers get a greater experience from buying from you, and far more reasons to buy from you.

INCORPORATE the Health message in your marketing, explaining how your product and service promotes well-being.

Which leads me to ponder if a better qualification for being a CWO might be that of a veterinarian. They are after all responsible for keeping healthy animals healthy and productive. A health care professional of today probably doesn’t have that kind of experience on humans. Makes you think…

Monday, November 22, 2004

Governments must govern to increase progress toward sustainability

A report from last year by the World Bank analyses how best to achieve good social and environmental practices in global supply chains.

One unanimous demand from participants in report, underlined by Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen at the Swedish partnership for Global Responsibility seminar in Stockholm 18th November, was for increased Public Sector Engagement.

Ironically, it is the private sector that has demonstrated commitment towards social and environmental standards in supply chains by enforcing local standards where they are consistent with international norms.

For progress to speed up, the private sector cannot continue to be “doing the job of government”.

Respondents call on government and local government to get involved more vitally in enforcing standards and supporting the efforts of private sector actors and civil society to promote better social and environmental practices.

IFTSP comments: government can be a useful invention to apply towards sustainability.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Corporate responsibility in the supply chain: South African Model

A good example of across the board cooperation towards sustainability is demonstrated by the South African Wine Growers voluntary agreement. This case was presented by Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen at the Swedish partnership for Global Responsibility seminar in Stockholm 18th November. We have been unable to find a web reference to check details but the principles are an extremely interesting example of how developing countries can set up cooperation to encourage corporate social responsibility.

The voluntary organization, partly funded by refunds on UK customs tax levees, was set up to oversee the development of corporate social responsibility in the wine export industry.
Members are required to comply fully with legal requirements and a code of conduct.
The organization monitors the members, provides training and manages various initiatives.

One benefit was that the government were so satisfied with the organization’s own internal monitoring that they concentrated instead on wine growers supplying local markets, where conditions were much worse.

Such set ups can be given real financial teeth. One example would be where one country allows a certain export quota to another country withcompanies participating in the voluntary code of conduct. To the degree this code is broken, export quotas are reduced.

This set up results in a lot of self-management.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) put Sweden first and USA last in sustainability league

Sustainability rating is increasingly becoming a factor for investors. ZKB are pioneering the development of sustainability index to compare countries. To our mind, rating is a good way to make it clear to everyone how important sustainability is, and in simple terms, what needs to be done. And, that many times SIMPLE SOLUTIONS are available. (See earlier posts on our Innovation training)

Their recent report places Sweden first, followed closely by Denmark and Switzerland. And USA ends up at the bottom.

Factors giving Sweden high marks include low relatively per capita CO2 gas emissions and high efficiency. FSC certified forests, a high share of organics farmland (6%) and high biodiversity rank high too. Sweden achieved the best social rating, Sweden spends most on research and development (4.6% of GDP) and Corporate Social responsibility - CSR -performance is high.

The USA registered the lowest result in no less than three areas. The highest meat consumption, very high paper consumption, the highest waste volumes and low recycling rates.
CO2 emissions, at 20 tonnes per capita, are by far the highest.

In social rating USA came 23rd. The large number of overweight people and low tobacco and alcohol prices had a negative impact on healthcare.

Download this and other reports here

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sustainable Supply Chain Management tools from Nordic Partnership

Ensuring sustainability through the supply chain will help your company minimize risks, improve operational performance and efficiency and improve competitiveness.

However, those companies intending to face the challenge of sustainability throughout their supply chain may find the task insurmountable. For example: what do they need to consider before embarking on the task, what approaches are available and how to choose between them, and once key areas are identified, how much is needed to be invested?

To tackle the Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) challenge head on, a group of representatives from Volvo Cars, Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Danisco, Brdr Hartmann, P&G Nordic, ITT Flygt, Posten AB, Cowi, ERM and Unido, got together to produce a diagnostic approach. This project is managed by Iver Drabæk, of Drabæk Consult, on behalf of the Nordic Partnership Secretariat.

The team produced a diagnostic tool to help with the above questions. It is released at version 1.00. More information is on the website The tool can be downloaded from http://www.nordicpartnership.org/db/files/np_sscm_self_diagnostic_version_1_0.pdf

Monday, November 08, 2004

Sustainability inbuilt in all humans

Reflections on Visit to Porena: teaching sustainability

You may not remember, but the visit to a "visualised" sustainable city included a trip to the school. We were told that the ability to understand sustainability is inbuilt in the human. Provided children get to interact with their environment before the age of 10 it will be part of thier mental make-up for life.

When I questioned this the teacher took me in a room to show me the children's drawings.

Below is a cartoon from the Japanese Professor Hiroshi Takatsuki. Adopted and repainted in color from his cartoon collection, HaiKIbutsu, or precious wastes.

Looking at it I can't help but think: WE DO GET THIS DON'T WE?

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