Monday, August 3, 2009

Will Urban Moles and PRT change the future of Supply Chains?

by Eric Carlson, CPP - Chainalytics

Bayer MaterialScience has announced its second annual VisionWorks Award this year called CargoPacks 2020. This is a student contest with industry & university partners. Second place this year was called Urban Mole by Philipp Hermes at Folkwang Hochschule in Essen Germany. The concept is to utilize existing underground infrastructure to provide an automated delivery network (sewer). How is that for an every changing supply chain, how quickly do you think ISTA and ASTM can come up with test standard to simulate the Urban Mole? The ick factor is supposed to be avoided by having the Mole travel at the top of the tube, the Mole is hermetically sealed, etc. The intent is for small parcels to be ferried around the city at minimal cost and a reduction of congestion; items like books, CDs, small parts/tools delivery, documents, etc. This is the type of last mile delivery innovation that many companies are looking for to reduce or defer supply chain costs. I think I might prefer the small upcharge for a bike messenger or wait an extra day for the overnight delivery service.

This appears to be WAY out of the box thinking, similar to a concept for moving people that has been around for a while called Personal Rapid Transit. There are a variety of concepts worldwide. The Skyweb Express by Taxi2000 was the solution posed for the Minneapolis area to better move people around non-stop directly from point to point. The system utilizes vertical space and would be have stations attached to buildings & transit hubs. There will be a PRT in place at London’s Heathrow Airport later this year using guided track vehicles. If this system moves people, it most certainly would only be a short time before it becomes part of your packaging supply chain as well.

More general info on PRT:
Heathrow PRT intro:

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Great to see that some of this Sci-Fi technology is starting to come around!


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