Not-Quite-in-Time Logistics

Writing in the Atlantic, Helen Lewis explains shortages and panic buying as a failure of efficiency; the weakness of just-in-time logistics.


Sorry Helen, but you’re a logistics n00b; even this old retired Lieutenant Colonel knows about arcane loggie stuff like stock levels and re-order points (zero is NOT a good re-order point).  When the military does it right, it’s called readiness (the First Gulf War was “fought off the shop floor” — we were over-prepared)  When a civilian does it right, he’s called a prepper (Thanks, Covid-19, for making America a nation of preppers.  It’s about time).

Lewis blathers on about other systems, like Britain’s NHS being overloaded, after operating at high efficiency.  A short course in queueing theory points out the fly in the ointment: a system with 90% utilization has 9 clients queued up, a system with 95% utilization has 19, and one with 99% utilization has 99.  “Efficiency” is a management face-saving sh*tword disguising the fact that a system is fragile and on the brink of being overwhelmed.  None of this is new or surprising, or paid attention to.  But now the Corona Chickens have come home to roost.

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