Marea, the submarine megacable of Facebook and Microsoft that will connect Europe and the United States

In previous articles I have talked about big data, cloud computing, Internet of things (IoT), industry 4.0, autonomous vehicles, etc. In this future, that is already present, if there is a constant, it is the need to manage more and more data and in real time, if we want to respond to the challenges that are presented to us. To achieve immediacy and capacity for calculation it is obvious that one of the essential factors is to have more and more efficient communications systems with global coverage. We have the need to have more and more transmission capacity and in real time, because without it, the digital revolution is slowed down.

cable marea

In order to respond to this need, initiatives such as “Marea” appear. Last June, the work to connect, “Marea”, the submarine megacable that will connect Europe and the United States, began in the town of Sopelana, in the Bay of Biscay, 18 kilometers from Bilbao.

Marea is a Microsoft and Facebook project that Telefonica will manage through its affiliate, Telxius, which will sell capacity as part of its infrastructure business.
The deployment of this cable, which as we have said, began last June in the coast of Biscay is expected that in autumn will arrive in Virginia Beach, in the United States.
The intention is that in 2018 Marea will be already operative.

What is Marea?

Marea is a cable of about 10 centimeters of diameter and more than 6,600 kilometers length, that will cross the Atlantic at a maximum depth of 4,000 meters in order to make the world a more open and connected place, since it will allow access to the large data centers installed in the North American market. It will be the largest submarine capacity cable that has ever crossed the Atlantic, consisting of eight pairs of fiber optic cables.

Marea will also have great interoperability capabilities. In this way, various companies can use it relatively easily with different types of equipment.

The cable is made, a priori, for all kinds of dangers and inequities. Designed to withstand the pressure of water, earthquakes or storms, and even shark bites.

What is the capacity?

Marea has an initial capacity of 160 terabits per second (Tbps), the largest in the world, 16 million times faster than a domestic Internet connection.

Thus, perhaps, we cannot imagine the dimensions of its capacity, we can transform it, for example, into the possibility of sending 100,000 million tweets per second or the transmission of 4,000 DVDs per second. It’s not bad at all!

Why is this infrastructure so important?

The project, backed by Facebook and Microsoft, will allow Telxius to sell capacity as part of its business, allowing its clients to benefit from lower costs.

On the other hand, it is a scalable project that can evolve adapted in innovation of optical technologies. Given this, we can conclude that Marea will allow bandwidth growth in a short time.
In addition, these types of connectivity projects are essential for the development of technology products and services in the cloud.
Marea, in particular, will allow a low latency connection that will help with the increased demand for faster speed across the Atlantic, which will improve the reliability of cloud services.

The great challenge. And the interests of Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius

The main objective of the companies involved in this technological project (Facebook, Microsoft and Telefónica through its subsidiary Telxius) is to cover the growing demand for high-speed Internet.
But, are there specific interests on the part of each of the companies embarked upon in this deployment?

The business, on the side of Telxius, is, as I mentioned at the beginning, by selling this service to its wholesale customers.

On the side of Facebook, the largest social network in the world, there is a clear intention to provide video and virtual reality services to its users. Marea will allow increasing the transferability between various data centers; A good example of this, is the data related to the popular social network, Instagram, or the most widely used instant messaging app, WhatsApp, both owned by Facebook.

And what about Microsoft? Marea is the perfect ally to continue the expansion of its services on the Cloud; As the case of Bing or Microsoft Azure.

More efficiency and security than the satellite

Nowadays, almost 99% of the transoceanic data are sent through submarine cables.
One of the main reasons is that the satellite connection has a much smaller capacity and offers a noticeably slower response. This makes it feasible to use it in broadband and real-time applications.

But the key is not alone in speed, also for security. All the information that circulates is a treasure for governments, spyware and hackers. It is much easier to protect a submarine cable than a satellite connection.

This new open and connected world, managed in real time, will increasingly need communication systems like Marea. We are perhaps at the beginning of the era of the global broadband connection. Surely we will see in the near future many “Mareas” throughout the Earth’s oceans. We hope that we make responsible, efficient and safe management of it.

Finally, if you want to take a look at the submarine cables installed around the world, you can see it on this website https://www.submarinecablemap.com/#/

 

 

The keys to understand the Forth Industrial Revolution

We are immersed in a technological revolution that is changing many things, especially the way we live, relate and work.
A really complex change, whose reach goes beyond anything that we have experienced before. A change marked by the new digital, physical and biological technologies that economists have called: the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The change will be guided by genetic engineering and neurotecnologies, two specialties that seem to be far from the reach and understanding for most citizens. However, its impact is being so strong and changing completely our daily life and our way of relating with each other. As a result, we will see how this new way of relating will have a direct impact on the future of work and social inequality, for example.

Why the Forth Industrial Revolution

According to experts, the foundation that gives rise to the so-called Revolution 4.0 is that it is not just about developments, but because of the “encounter” of these developments. And in this sense it represents a paradigm shift, instead of one more step in the frenzied technological career.
There are three great reasons that define this revolution as its own and not as an extension of the Third Industrial Revolution:

  1. The speed

The pace in which advances occur is unprecedented.

  1. The scope

These advances are reaching industries of all continents, taking place globally.

  1. The impact

Its impact affects directly to all industries.

On the other hand, it follows the process of the three previous revolutions:

The First Industrial Revolution changed artisanal production to mechanized production. Being carbon the engine of it.
The Second Industrial Revolution, entailed electricity and mass production. Mass production, at an efficient cost, but without product customization. Remember Henry Ford and his Ford T black.
The Third Industrial Revolution was accompanied by electronics and new information and telecommunications technologies. Here began the ability to become more cost efficient and achieve greater customization of products and services.
This Fourth Industrial Revolution completely automates manufacturing and what we see is an intelligent factory that combines physical machines with digital processes, allowing machines to make decisions and cooperate (among them and with human teams). The personalization of the product reaches its maximum level, while we try to make a different product for each consumer at the same cost as if we did large series of production. The scenario people of marketing always have dreamed of!

3 keys to understand the Revolution or Industry 4.0

  1. This revolution is created on the basis of systems that combine software, nanotechnology, sensors, an important physical structure and new technologies related to communications.
  2. IoT or Internet of Things, , is playing and will play a fundamental role in this paradigm shift.
  3. It will affect industries around the world, which will lead to a radical change in employment.

There was initially a strong resistance and the belief that certain industries could be kept apart from digitization. In fact, the media, music and even logistics were some of the industries in which this resistance was more evident. Evolution finally came also to them and today, all these industries are fully adapted to the digital phenomenon. What does not change tends to disappear.

The 8 main axes of the Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a very broad concept. A complex gear that we can divide into 8 main axes that are making it work:

  1. Massive Data (Big Data)
  2. Cloud Process (Cloud Computing)
  3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
  4. Augmented reality
  5. Robotics
  6. Cyber security
  7. Simulation and prototype
  8. Integration of processes

The great challenge of industry 4.0

The adaptation and individualization of manufacturing processes to attend the needs of customers are a fundamental element. But not only that, we must achieve it by improving production times, reducing costs and creating a more efficient value chain. The challenge is big, sometimes titanic.

The role of people

We cannot forget the role of people in all this …

Adapting all the technologies we are talking about, it is a complex process and must be done gradually.
Probably the great challenge of industry 4.0 is in the people. Achieving fluid, effective and natural coexistence between the human team and the machines is not an easy task. We are used to see in factories that there is on one hand machines and / or robots and on the other people. We are not accustomed to interact in cooperative processes.
This wall will gradually fall in order to achieve greater efficiency.

The first step is to change our mindset. This new paradigm requires adaptation of people to a new environment and that is why we must be open and predisposed to changes.

Pioneers of the Revolution

The most advanced countries will pioneer the change. These countries will implement it more quickly.
The emerging economies will gradually be added and surely these will be the ones that can benefit most.

The employment of the future will be based on work that still does not exist and industries that work with totally new technologies. This revolution has the power to increase the level of global income and improve the quality of life. However, all these processes of transformation will not affect each other in a positive way. It will benefit only those who are able to adapt and innovate. In this sense, we will have to work so that it is not a source of social inequalities. This is one of the main challenges that we have to face.

Now more than ever, we have to adapt if we do not want to disappear.

Google´s Red Button to stop machines from rebelling against humankind

Artificial intelligence is perhaps large companies most important strategic decision. They are investing huge amounts of money, effort and resources in its development.
Machines that are able to learn independently in order to facilitate our lives in any area.boton rojo de google

But there will come a time, when machines will surpass human intelligence. And no, I’m not inventing this, nor is it the title of a science fiction movie. This is the conclusion, experts of the company Deep Mind have reached (a company specializing in artificial intelligence) together with FHI (Institute for the Future of Humanity). In fact, computer science has advanced greatly since its inception 70 years ago. The computing power has been doubling every 18 months, according to Moore’s Law. It is believed that if Moore’s law continues fulfilling itself, by 2030 the computing power of a processor corresponds to the intelligence of a person.

This hypothesis is at least, a disturbing one. So much that the classic movie “Terminator” seems to have inspired Google when developed and patented his now famous red button.

With the aim of eradicating the fear of artificial intelligence, Deep Mind (company belonging to the giant Google) and FHI have developed a “red button”. An emergency button in which in case of a machine rebellion, it could be prevented and stop any harmful action for humankind.

What is Google´s Red Button?

Laurent Orseau, a scientist who works for Deep Mind and Stuart Amstrong of the University of Oxford, are responsible for this project.

According to Armstrong and Orseau, the button has been created for the purpose of preventing machines to follow a sequence of actions that could be harmful to humans or the environment. So they developed a protocol that allows a human operator to interrupt the operation of the artificial intelligence platform in case of emergency and also ensure that the robot is not able to override these interruptions.

The challenge of artificial intelligence

The question of whether machines can be revolted is present and more and more inventions question this possibility…

A good example of this is a robot capable of deciding whether or not cause pain to people by nailing a needle. Its creator, Alexander Reben, sought, when he created the machine, to enter into the burning debate whether or not artificial intelligence is dangerous.

Another example is the Microsoft bot, Tay, designed to create fun chats on social networks, the company had to turn off the next day after its release because it started throwing racist and sexist comments on Twitter. Do you remember?

http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/03/160325_tecnologia_microsoft_tay_bot_adolescente_inteligencia_artificial_racista_xenofoba_lb

Scientists and specialists agree that no system is infallible and that precautions must be taken.

Surely the danger today is not very likely to happen, but technology is advancing very fast, it is best to work on it from now on.
The key is to raise awareness about safety in the development of almost all algorithms and robots, and to be able to disconnect the system in an instant. Or even better, that any artificial intelligence system can detect when something is wrong and be able to stop it automatically.

In the world of artificial intelligence, managing to control any risk for humans is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.

In conclusion we could say that we are facing an exciting future but not without risk, if we don´t do it right.

 

The future passes through smart cities

New technologies have brought great change in recent years. And above all, has made possible a new industrial revolution, the so-called fourth industrial revolution, mass digitization of processes and services.

Many of the futuristic films we saw just a few years ago, incredulously proved the prediction of what today are our days, or will be soon. As happened with Jules Verne more than 150 years ago, as happened in films like Blade Runner and Akira, but hopefully we will improve certain things by then.

What would you think if I told you that the future is in smart cities in which we can interact? But not only that, I’m talking about a near future, where this cities act more like a living organism, than as a set of concrete and steel buildings; Masdar, Abu Dhabi, are an example.

All will pass through the network. Yes, Internet has come to change the world. Literally.

Electrical network, pipes… everything will be connected. There will be driverless vehicles. Streets, signs, stores, buildings … everything will be intelligent and will respond to our needs. The needs that we have always had. The reason why we could not be able to build this kind of cities before is because we didn’t have the capacity to manage data properly, but now we are able to do that. The massive data processing techniques, the famous big data, allows it.

An ecological trend

Intelligent and sustainable, this is the trend of the new cities.

Sustainable solutions not only remain vital in cities and buildings, but in the city of the future, there will be no longer independent solutions and it will become part of an integrated digital system.

We talked earlier in the blog, about roads that use solar energy for self-sufficient lighting, or roads that turn air, generated by passing cars, into energy.

==> Technologies that will make roads safer, more comfortable and efficient <==

The same goes for buildings, for example, they will be able, through big data, to know when there is a greater demand for electricity and store it for use when needed, to detect states of emergency, manage water efficiency, etc. Efficient water and energy management are key elements for the cities of the future, if we want them to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Traffic

One of the major problems in cities is the traffic. It is also a major problem for efficient logistics. Priority is set for road users, increasing the use of public transport and freight priority uses. For environmental and efficiency criteria, subways or trains should be encouraged, that have the capacity of moving 20,000 people / hour instead of cars that in the best of cases reach 1200 persons / hour and 5 times less polluting per passenger than private vehicles.
In addition, today the vast amount of data that can be handled thanks to new technologies makes it possible to predict those places where there will be traffic congestion. This is an important advance. However, we are still not able to make traffic jams disappear.

Companies like Waze, now owned by the giant Google, are working in this direction.
For those who do not know, Waze is a social application for automobile traffic in real time and assisted navigation asking citizens to help in solving the huge problem of traffic. The actual data, sent by users, allows the application to generate a map of the conditions in real time. Surprisingly, in countries like Israel, it was observed that when this service is not available, a great chaos is generated.

When will we have Smart Cities?

This is perhaps the biggest question. We already have the technology.

Now what?
It is not an easy task, we have to think of it as something big, and we could define it as a big monster, unknown and uncontrollable. Probably we have first to learn how to tame it. This big monster could make most of our cities clean, efficient and safe, but to become Smart Cities, governments need to be smart and trained to handle this revolution. It is much easier to build a city from a blueprint than to remodel an existing one. In the second case, smart elements will be incorporated, slowly, wisely. The “smart” way is the only way to do it. Pilot testing, and see how it progresses.

The involvement of governments is essential if we want to have Smart Cities, as we face decisions that alter the urban planning, traffic flows, local regulations, etc. In this aspect, infrastructure investments will be made on investment criteria, for example economic revenue or environmental impact and other criteria that we used to see. I must say that this “smart” digital revolution is a very important route to economic growth if it is used properly, as an opportunity that cannot be missed. It could generate high-level jobs.

Of What you can be sure is that the pace at which technology and society advances is not going to be calmly … The future is very close to the present.

 

Keys to the trend: “uberization” of businesses.

Besides a few controversies and a lot of detractors, Uber has become one of the most valuable companies in the world of mobile applications. The impact of its success is not only because it manages astronomical numbers, but also, it brought down barriers and created a new trend. Thanks to that, we talk about “uberization” of businesses and economy.

Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, Netflix … We are talking about different companies in different sectors. At first, it could be difficult to find a pattern between them. But there is: all of them are part of the “uberization” of the economy.

When we say “uberization”, we talk about activities oriented to cooperation practices in an enterprise. It is a model capable to be integrated, specially, in service businesses:

Transport (Uber), Accommodation (Airbnb), Entertainment (Netflix), etc. Although, industrial companies may also adopt this model. This is because, when speaking of industrial and service businesses, it is not easy to establish a clear boundary. For example, a car factory may think that it clearly has to focus on production. But in many cases, the customer is more interested in the services surrounding the product, looking to buy a reliable private transportation service. This means maintenance, replacement vehicle, roadside service, in short, a whole range of elements necessary to achieve the customer satisfaction. So, the line between the product and the service is increasingly softer, therefore, a concept like “uberization” should be analyzed and integrated also in industrial companies.

Keys to the success of “uberization”

A key aspect of this model is the elimination of intermediaries, to be able to offer more attractive fares to the end consumer. Another key element of this new concept is based on technology, mobile is its strength and all offers are hosted in smartphone applications (apps).

As a curiosity, we can see that mobile applications are far from being complex, they are based on simplicity … If you look into any of these startup apps, you can see that they have a very intuitive interface, simple, and in many cases with very few features. This is where we can apply the maxim “less is more”, in order to achieve the greatest efficiency.

The impact has been so strong in businesses, because they actually did not invent a new model, they improved an existing one. The activity is the same, customers remain the same, but the business model has been improved using the advantages of ubiquitous computing and combining this with participatory economics. As an example, we can compare Airbnb, with the prestigious Hilton Hotel chain. Hilton has 93 years of history and manages 610,000 rooms in 88 countries. Well, Airbnb needed only four years to handle 650,000 rooms in 192 countries, incredible, right? In addition, the Airbnb business model did not need high investments and its growth is exponential. The working capital needed to grow this business is infinitely inferior to the powerful Hilton Hotel chain. Surely both have their place in the market, but what is clear is the spectacular way Airbnb has improved the accommodation management model.

But beyond all of the above, we have to talk about empathy and the great knowledge of the market. This is one of the keys to success and a common denominator of these companies. All of them have been able to recognize customer dissatisfaction and change the situation by offering a higher quality service through competitive bids, enabling customers to save time and improve their experience.

The “uberization” is certainly an upward trend, because of its scalable model, which allows activity growth, in a natural and fluid way, without having the service quality affected and what is even more important, without the need of assets and capital investment.

So, get prepared to see the strangest things being “uberized”…

 

5G, the Future of Wireless Networks

5g

Internet has become an essential part of our life and we work with it every day. Today, we already have many connected devices: computers, telephones, cars, televisions, but soon we will also see connected: our refrigerator, the kitchen cupboard, even the clothes we are wearing. Our whole environment will be connected to the network. In addition, we demand an increasingly faster, efficient and universal connection. We must have network availability anywhere and at any time. So, telecommunication companies have to satisfy this need.

If we want to have connection anywhere and at any time, wireless networks are essential. In this article we will talk about the so-called 5G. When we talk about wireless networks, the “G” means generation. Just like its predecessors, 3G and 4G. 5G is a sort of wireless connection designed to satisfy the need of a future, where billions of devices will be connected to the network. This new reality demands a new protocol. This will be 5G. But…

What is exactly 5G?

Wireless technology started with 1G. In the 90’s we met 2G, the time, when devices allowed us to send SMS. Perhaps you have heard more about 3G, which allowed us not only to make calls and send SMS, but also to surf internet. 4G, broadly, came to improve the advantages of 3G, highlighting the speed, when surfing the Net.
But the evolution did not stop there, 4G added the LTE (Long Term Evolution), which made it even faster …

5G arrives in order to support a massive connection of devices, providing reliability and new features in navigation, keeping bandwidth from collapse. This new generation will be built on a 4G LTE  basis.

What is new?

5G will enable us to confront the future …

5G will still allow us to make calls, send messages and surf internet. So far, nothing is new. The difference is that it will be faster. For practical purposes, to give an example, downloading and uploading heavy files, in Ultra HD format or 3D videos, will no longer be a problem.

In addition to the increasing speed, 5G will be able to support millions of devices connected at the same time.

How fast will it be?

Currently, the transmission speed of the 4G LTE reaches up to a gigabit per second. 5G will multiply this number by 10, allowing a download speed of up to 10 gigabits per second.

When can we start using 5G?

For almost a year already, some companies have been making tests in several cities, mainly in the United States. Other companies are doing internal testing inside their facilities. However, predictions talk about a global availability of 5G, starting in 2020.

 

Some incredible stuff that 5G allows us

Autonomous vehicles

5G networks will be prepared to respond fast enough to coordinate autonomous vehicles.

We could imagine roads without traffic lights, for example. Once all vehicles have cameras and sensors integrated, they can capture videos continuously and thus move without traffic lights or provide accurate information of what happened in an accident, etc.

Videoconferences

5G will allow us to communicate in a more visual way. We can talk from anywhere, with anyone, wherever they are, through such clear videos that it will seem as we are next to them.

Telemedicine

Remote medicine assistance will be a reality thanks to 5G, which will allow doctors to perform an intervention or practice surgery remotely. Yes, you have read right; Delays in connecting with 5G are so tiny that doctors can use robots to operate a person that can be thousands of miles away. They will not even have to be in a hospital or medical center.

In short, these and other unimaginable applications will come to us in the next few years. We need to be attentive and take advantage of the opportunities that 5G will offer to us, in order, to improve our lives and our communities.

Welcome to the future!

The great challenge of industry 4.0

Indústria 4.0

Industry 4.0, also called cyber-industry or intelligent factory, is becoming a fashion-expression in the business world. But, what is this all about?

Digital transformation is creating a great impact in the company organization, production and management of the relationship with clients. The digital marketing, the Web and the mobile devices caught our attention during the last years. But the greatest impact of the digital phenomenon is now in the digitalisation of industries. Some even dare to call it the forth industrial revolution… 

What is industry 4.0?

When we talk about industry 4.0, we talk about the digital transformation applyed to industrial production, the introduction of new digital technologies in fabrics. By using sensors and other information systems we can obtain the digitalisation of production processes making them more effective and efficient.

So simple and so complex

Not long ago, there was a general idea that industrial companies have been living in a parallel reality to digitalisation. Big mistake!

We were able to observe something similar with other industries that initially put resistance to the inevitable evolution. The music industry, for example, was one of the most obvious. They saw this change as a threat. Also media in general and without going any further, logistics would be an example too. All of them are now fully adapted to the digital phenomenon.

The same happened to many other industries that suffered because the organization struggled against a change of mentality in front of the evolution of the digital world. This is because the competitiveness of enterprises is at stake: the possibility of offering personalized customer service; ability to design customized products and services; ability to adapt to demand; more profitable production; ability to collect, analyze and exploit information, etc.

Industry 4.0 is a very broad concept; to understand the scope a bit better we could divide it into eight main areas that allow the operation of this complicated gear:

  1. Big data
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. IOT (Internet of Things)
  4. Augmented reality
  5. Robotics
  6. Cyber security
  7. Simulation and prototyping
  8. Process integration

A key element is to achieve greater flexibility and individualisation of manufacturing processes. Manufacturers must adapt products to the needs of individual customers and each product will be different. We are talking about a hyper-differentiation in industrial production.

All this must be done by reducing costs and improving production times, thus raising the efficiency of the value chain. We are therefore facing a great challenge.

The great challenge of industry 4.0: People

To apply all the technologies we discussed before is not an easy task. It is a long and complex process to integrate all of this into a business. It cannot be done from one day to another. It has to be done gradually.

However, the great challenge of the 4.0 industry is in 4.0 people. One of the objectives of the industry 4.0 is to create coexistence for people and machines in the same environment, harmoniously interacting in a natural process, unlike now. Today the factories have robots on one side and on the other side they have people that do not participate in cooperative processes. Industry 4.0 is about to break this barrier, creating a co-working environment for the same process and make it more effective and efficient.

Accept the digital transformation requires a change of mentality, a new culture and willingness to change … To adapt to this new environment will not be an easy task for professionals. But there is no choice: adapt or die.

Here some links to interesting videos about industry 4.0:

Machine learning in a logistics company

machine-learning

Machine learning refers to a set of techniques that surround the study and practice of algorithms, which have the ability to learn from data. They are able to create programs from general behavior pattern recognition. In other words, machines can learn without being previously programmed for something specifically.
The learning process of the machine is similar to data mining. Both systems use data to look for patterns. However, instead of extracting data for human understanding – such as applications of data mining – machine learning uses this data to detect patterns and modifies them, automatically, according to software parameters. Machine learning algorithms are classified between supervised and unsupervised. Supervised algorithms can apply what they have learned in the past and with the new data they can use it, for what we call training data. Unsupervised algorithms can draw conclusions from data sets without a priori knowledge.
This is not something new. Machine learning has much to do with the original idea of artificial intelligence; in fact, it is a type of AI.

New information technologies and telecommunications have marked a before and after in companies, in some sectors more than in others. Logistics is one of those sectors that have been impacted with great force. The ability to use and analyze massive amounts of continuously generated data has led to many improvements, for example, in continuous processes and optimization of routes.

As said earlier, we are not talking about something new. The novelty is that now large amount of data can be collected by companies in order to create the basic raw material that is used for machine learning. Sometimes companies have the conflict of what to do with them, and data by itself is not useful. When we talk about massive amounts of data it becomes essential to have proper administration and analysis, so we can turn them into a useful tool. Given this reality, we have two choices: we can simply store them, which represent a loss of valuable information and opportunities for the company, or we can use them to learn and grow.

Thanks to the advance and development of new information technology, machine learning today, little or nothing, has to do with machine learning solutions that we know from the past. Today, we can apply and use algorithms or data volumes in huge amounts, to grow steadily and rapidly. Flexible algorithms and the ability to adapt them independently, result in a myriad of solutions, ranging from software, to online recommendations. For example, as we talked a few months ago, the development of self-driven vehicles, without a driver.

Machine learning applications in a logistics company

Applications are almost endless; in fact, we can adapt machine learning to as many situations as we have data. There are many regular activities in our lives and daily routines that include machine learning. These are just some examples: search engines, filtering emails, facial recognition, medical diagnostics, etc.

But, what kind of applications in machine learning should we have for logistics companies? These are some of the applications in the management of the supply chain:

– Facial recognition, voice or objects applicable, especially in stores.
– Predictions and forecasts. Very useful in the phase of transport, for example, in order to obtain data on traffic or weather conditions; or even to avoid errors in technological equipment.
– Optimization methods to create faster and more effective assessing. For example, to determine, the best time to execute a particular task.
– Analysis of consumer behavior and productivity. It is possible, through machine learning, to detect potential customers, predict which employees can be more productive, which profitable services should adapt to the needs of customers, etc.
– The famous cars and trucks without driver …

Applying machine learning in a logistics company is not easy. It requires in addition a professional programmer with a profile specialized in probability and statistics. However, it is an option to consider, especially when it comes to problem-solving nature of complex algorithms. That is very helpful when we need to find precise solutions in the shortest time possible.

The key of machine learning is the ability to adapt and build a decision tree based on known data. Their applications are so broad and the creative capacity of each one of these applications are intended to detect patterns in data or to answer certain questions in a predictive way, saving us time in the study of data and the definition of casuistry which could take weeks, months or even years.

Finally, an important aspect to be put on the table is the kind of applications we are talking about will answer: What will happened? But not, why?   This fact is transcendental and clashes frontally with our empirical training. We will be able to detect that something will happen, but if we want to know why it will happen, we need further analysis. The reality is that we often just want to know what will happen, because then we can act accordingly and remedy it. For example, thanks to these tools we are able to predict an earthquake. Then, we can prepare ourselves, displacing people, etc., and this actions should be enough. We don´t need to know that this is because of a tectonic plate moved or that there was a tsunami in such a place that caused it.

So there is no doubt that we are only at the beginning of a revolution, where the use of big data and machine learning tools, will be in all areas of our life, especially in logistics. Regarding this, the recommendation is to think as our grandparents and save everything, especially data.  Because the unstructured data as we have today: Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, emails, documents of all kinds, etc.; are the raw material that is needed by machine learning in order to work and help us to manage our business better.

 

Anticipatory Shipping: The Amazon patent that allows sending products before the users have even purchased them.

logisitca-amazon

Advances in technology and innovation make the future we saw, just a few years ago, in some cinematographic films, not as a fantasy any more but now becoming part of our daily life.
It comes to mind “Minority Report,” “The Fifth Element”, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Robocop.”

HAL 9000, the computer that we saw in “2001: A Space Odyssey” could interpret the feelings of the characters and was able to predict when they would turn it off. We do not know if Amazon was inspired by the film when creating “anticipatory shipping”, but this algorithm is something similar because it can predict the demand of users for the purpose of sending products before being purchased and they can be delivered in an hour.

In 2012, Amazon presented a patent for a delivery system designed to reduce delivery time, by predicting what users will buy before they were actually buying it and shipping the products to their homes even before the sale has been made: “Method and System for Anticipatory Shipping Package“.

Today, the Amazon commitment with users and buyers who choose the Premium service marketplace is the one or two-day delivery. Although there are already some locations where the deliveries can be made in less than 24 hours. The aim of the e-commerce giant is to minimize delivery times and in order to make this possible, the key are the so-called predictive models.

The idea is aiming to ensure that online shopping can be as immediate, as to buy goods on a physical location, in which you can pay and take the product at the same time.

How is this possible?

Big Data plays a key role in this. Thanks to stored data in the order history of each customer on Amazon, the online sales giant can predict how many new books of Dan Brown’s latest novel, how many Samsung 7 or how many drones will be sold in a given area: neighborhood, city, etc.

This model simulates the reality by analyzing the customer behavior in the past and even though it is not exact, it allows to approach the number of orders that will be carried out. Given this estimate, Amazon sends a variety of products to its distribution centers and even trucks assigned to an exact area. From the user finally ‘clicking’ on the button, until the arrival of the purchase at home, the shipping can take just a few hours or less.

We cannot ignore that carrying packages from one place to another, has a cost. Even for Amazon. But if there is anything that characterized them in the past, is having an efficient logistics that allows them to make a difference and their excitement to innovate.

What happens if their predictive model is wrong?

This part also is under control through a system that is able to calculate whether it is worth (speaking of costs, of course) to return the product to the plant or if it is better to send discounts and promotions to customers in the area where the products are (always a lower value than the cost of returning the product to the plant). The idea is not so far-fetched. It allows offering great deals to customers and making them happy, as well as the liquid stocks are reducing costs and maintaining a complex logistics machine running.

Amazon is very sure of their prediction algorithm and its reverse logistics capabilities, which in the US is now already sending products to certain customers without them even done “the click”. It is already in the last phase, where they will be able to know the purchase of a product even before we know it. Really incredible and disturbing, they know more about us than ourselves.

Implementing the model worldwide where customers are counted by millions, with hundreds of distribution centers to control all across the planet, and thousands (maybe more) suppliers is not an easy task. But it is undoubtedly a brilliant step to the future and a unique way to differentiate them from the competition.

Alan Key said:
❝The best way to predict the future is to invent it❞.

The future of road transportation: Driverless Trucks

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A year ago or maybe a bit more, we`ve been hearing the media talking about a near future in which vehicles can go without a driver handling the steering wheel. But not only by media giants, like Google or Uber, even manufacturers such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz predict a future where autonomous vehicles can be driven without a person.

Mercedes-Benz presented what they consider the truck of the future, which is called “Future Track 2025”. A model that represents a breakthrough in efficiency, security and networking. It is a vehicle with an automatic, integrated system that allows the driver to rest or perform other tasks meanwhile the truck is in charge of getting cargo to its destination, safely and efficiently.

The prototype of Mercedes-Benz, as you can see in the link below, represents a revolution of traffic and infrastructure, for professional drivers and the road transportation sector. Among many other objectives and advantages, it ensures the highest level of traffic safety, promoting the creation of networks and intelligent data management, preserving resources and reducing emissions. Having in mind that over 90% of accidents are caused by human error.

It has recently come to light, that the giant Google has a patent that describes a driverless vehicle for packaging transportation. As reported by the journal Quartz, Google pretends that the packaging recipients receive and type a PIN code at a corresponding locker, in the truck when it arrives to their door.

The patent does not provide details about the vehicle autonomous operation. Although it refers to common elements of driverless cars or other vehicles prototyping: laser and radar sensors, video cameras, navigation maps, communication systems, connecting vehicles to an external controller, etc.

Google wants to deliver packages from self-driving trucks

The industry is showing great optimism to the possibilities, but the truth is, although they are already testing this technology, driverless vehicles present more obstacles than just the technological:

High Costs

Currently, the costs involved in creating a vehicle with this kind of system and driving it on the streets are very high. Which undoubtedly makes a mass production of driverless trucks still a dream.

Road safety rules and other legislative barriers

Legislation is still not prepared for this, in almost any country in the world.  A few months ago the biggest problem in drones development and innovation, broke at the legislative level. In this case it does not look very optimistic. Governments, both local and national, are unsure about the idea of putting millions of human lives in the hands of robots.

In case of driverless vehicles, for example: Current regulation takes for responsible, the person behind the wheel, driving. Imagine in case of an event or accident, the responsible will be the robot!

Rejection by part of the sector.

We cannot forget that millions of people are working as full-time professional drivers and certainly this type of technology will be rejected at the first sight. This is not something new in human history. Technological revolutions involve stop doing certain things and start doing other instead. Like manufacturers of carriages were jobless when cars appeared. Surely, professional drivers can do other things related to people and goods transportation, in which they are involved. In any case, it will be a long road where everyone have time to adapt, if they want to.

However, the benefits are many: security and management, resource optimization and even in an environmental level. People with disabilities, either by age or disease, a group that is growing in number, anxiously await such solutions to change their lives, giving them the autonomy they had before.

All these factors, in a short, medium term, would start leaning in favor of accepting driverless vehicles. We will begin seeing them as normal on our roads in about five or six years from now, I dare to predict.  The first radical change, will come in the next 2-3 years. It will be unstoppable the introduction of electric cars, then the autonomous cars and probably much later they will gain the ability to move not only on land but also on other surfaces like water or air. In short term, we are facing an exciting future, if we make the best of it. And in this case, innovation must move businesses and entrepreneurs, to bet to this new world that awaits us.