The Logistics of James Bond

The hard part about the logistics industry is having to focus on every little thing everyone else is accustomed to not thinking about. Nothing is taken for granted here. It can get a little frustrating.

Imagine trying to enjoy an old James Bond flick when this scene comes on:

And then you start wondering…is that real?

Planes

Cargo planes have to carefully calculate their center of gravity and surely having two grown men and all your cargo thrown from the bay to hanging out of the plane would cause the plane to stall. (Yeah, we are fun at parties).

Anyways, I took a lot of time and discovered two things:

1. It was a real stunt and incredibly dangerous

2. Every transport vehicle needs to worry about weight distribution, but it vastly vastly understudied

If you want to see just how dangerous it can get and are morbid enough, try googling around for a video of the Boeing 747 in Afghanistan carrying military vehicles.

With the Boeing, every check and test was passed. In fact, the blackbox showed nothing was going wrong but the whole thing stalled and crashed anyway. So what happened?

A vehicle broke loose and smashed into the others. This caused all of them to break loose and slam into the back of the plane. The center of gravity of the plane immediately changed to be much further back and the nose aimed far too high.

Most research for cargo has been done on efficient use of space. Actually balancing trucks and planes to fly safely and be fuel efficient is largely forgotten.

In a 757, every hour in the air we burn off roughly 7000 pounds of fuel. In the 757 we can have up to a 1950 pound imbalance. Fuel in the wings has to burn around the same rate or it gets imbalanced horizontally.

Many long distance planes take off with a weight that wouldn’t allow them to land so think about that when you start an international flight. Expected fuel usage changes the center of gravity

Trains

Balance is maintained by keeping a speed limit. Derailments are caused usually by misjudging speed around turns. To set the speed limits, railroad engineers have to calculate how fast a speeding train can take a corner.

Automobiles

Truck weight is limited by axel capacity or legal weight limits, whatever is lower.

It takes less time to tie down a load than it takes to report the reason a load fell off a trailer. If the roads are hilly or rough enough, the truck may only be safe at as low as 64% the recommended weight capacity.

Even racing has to look into studying balance. The fans of a Rollsroyce must keep their balance or it will shorten the lifespan of the car and use more energy.

What would think of your fancy new Rollsroyce if the fan just went out or got loud for no reason after a year?

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