Running efficiently: How athletics and logistics converge

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going

If you’ve read a few coaching books about running, chances are that the authors would agree that how well you run comes down to three factors:

1. VO2max

Your VO2max levels determine your body’s ability to transport oxygen to your muscles and your muscles ability to utilize this oxygen.

2. Lactate threshold

Lactate is a by-product of working your muscles. The lactate build up interferes with energy production and reduces the muscle’s ability to contract – therefore you’re forced to slow down.

3. Running economy

Running economy measures how fast you can run compared to the next guy, given the same amount of oxygen. In other words, it measures how efficiently your body uses the resources that it has.

It may seem like a stretch, but these factors can also be adapted to apply to the efficiency of a logistics operations.

Think about it: All three of these factors can be improved by having a specific training plan, customized based on your level of running and time constraints. An increase in your weekly volume (hours run per week) will trigger your body to develop more capillaries per muscle fiber, allowing more blood to be transported to your leg muscles. The result? Your legs get stronger and your running economy improves.

As you can imagine, runners would want to be able to monitor their progress. I use a sports watch to track my volume and see how much faster I’m getting (or not).

But how do the principles of running apply to logistics planning?

You can improve your running performance by having a specific training plan that takes into account your specific level of running and time constraints. In logistics, a planner makes delivery plans that aim to deliver all shipments based on the available trucks and drivers, taking into account customer delivery windows. Logistics companies must be able to track delivery progress and look at KPIs at the end of each week to see how they’re doing.

Runners who use a training plan as a tool for improvement are able to build a more consistent running form, enabling them to run more efficiently. Eventually, even long runs take less time to complete. Many customers like VIVA Energy are also getting similar results when they use the right tools to improve their operations. Having the right system enables companies to reduce planning times considerably, allowing them to spend more time on actually executing the shift.

The focus on execution becomes more important as everyday disruptions such as traffic jams require the planner to make real-time changes to the plan. Naturally, we deal with disruptions in running too! Injuries happen, work and personal commitments demand more time and we must be able to adjust the training plan instead of unrealistically sticking to the original one.

If you are serious about your running, you should do some research to find the right tool to track your progress and build the right training plan tailored to you. This need for research is also mirrored in logistics operations: To run lean, a logistics company should take advantage of having a structured plan. This plan should prescribe which orders to combine, which driver to execute the load and when to execute trips, leading to on-time deliveries.

VIVA Energy discovered the need for a tool that allows planners to make necessary adjustments to cater for unexpected disruptions and measure how these adjustments would affect operational KPIs. The right logistics planning tool would visualize the overall plan and assist the planner in making the right planning decisions, taking into account available resources to create a feasible plan to fulfil demand. For VIVA Energy, the right tool needed to allow planners to make the necessary adjustments based on their soft knowledge but also automatically re-plan events to cater for unexpected disruptions all while measuring how these adjustments would affect operational KPIs. Quintiq was the perfect tool for VIVA Energy and strives to be the perfect tool for your logistics operation as well.

Logistics is about the where and when – with Quintiq, every detail is clearly visible.

Logistics is about the where and when – with Quintiq, every detail is clearly visible.

In summary, whether it’s purely running or running your business, you’ll want to have the ability to create specific plans to meet your unique goals. The plan that will help you reach those goals is one that is not only feasible, but tailored to your needs.

Need a boost in your operations to get ahead in the logistics race? Learn about Quintiq’s expertise in logistics planning.

This post contains information adapted from ‘Advanced Marathoning (Second Edition)’ by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas.

Alp Arzlan

About Alp Arzlan

Quintiq gives me the opportunity to choose my own path and work on topics that matter to me. That means after spending many years as an implementer on customer facing projects, I'm able to channel that valuable experience into product development, specifically Logistics Planner (LP). It's my goal to deliver a market relevant solution by continuously improving LP and taking into account feedback from the BUs. At the moment I'm excited to learn more about data science, machine learning and I'm working with some of our colleagues on incorporating predictive analytics in LP. If you have ideas or seen examples of supply chain analytics in practice please do drop me an email about it! In my spare time I divide my time between running, cycling, swimming, gym, reading (primarily on data science now), gaming, movies and cooking. Cooking your own food is not just better for your wallet, your workouts gain from it.