Daily Archives: December 25, 2012

If You Think You Have Supply Chain Problems, Think About Poor Santa! (Repost)

Santa, who has to travel 2,860 miles per second in order to visit 1,700 homes per second to deliver over 2 Million Tonnes of gifts to boys and girls around the world, has supply chains and logistics challenges that put even the logistics challenges of the largest multi-national or US military (that has to support almost 1.5 Million people on active duty around the world that need everything from food and clothes to jeeps, tanks, and aircraft to do their job) to shame.

Reviewing a few simple stats, that we can compile from this article on The Science of Christmas in the Telegraph, this article on Santa’s Logistics Challenge in the Bangkok Post, and this article that asked What if Santa Had a Supply Chain Problem over on Open Kitchen, we find out that:

  • There are approx. 1.9 Billion children in the world.
  • Approximately 33% of these children have Christian parents.
  • The majority (defined as 90%) will be deemed nice by Santa.
  • In total, about 570 Million children need gifts.
  • If there are 3 children per household, on average, about 190 Million households will need to be visited.
  • Since Santa likely cannot start delivering gifts safely before 9 pm in a household, and since some children will not sleep more than 7 hours (on Christmas Eve), Santa has only 31 hours to make his deliveries.
  • This says he must visit almost 1,700 homes per second.
  • Since Christianity pervades our planet, he’ll have to cross most of the 510,000,000 kms of the planet’s surface.
  • Assuming the houses are equi-distant (which is a fair approximation as they’ll be dense in the city are far apart in rural areas), Santa will have approximately 2.7 km to travel between households.
  • That’s 513 M kms of travel in 31 hours.
  • That’s equivalent to 4,600 kms per second.
  • But this is just the delivery. He also needs to acquire the toys to deliver.
  • Let’s assume 2 toys per child, or 1.04 Billion toys.
  • Assuming a distribution where popular toys are distributed to
    tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of children and where unpopular ones go to thousands, or hundreds, of children, we are probably looking at 10 Million toys.
  • While some vendors may produce 100 types of toys, others will produce one, and we can settle at about 10 toys per vendor.
  • That’s 10 Million vendors to manage!
  • If they are scattered all over the earth, and if each toy can go direct or through nearby 3PLs, and if each toy can go by a mix of truck, rail, sea, and air, that’s probably between 2 and 20 lanes per vendor, with 5 being a good number.
  • That’s 50 Million lanes by which goods could be arriving.
  • No wonder Santa needs a Super Spaceship and an army of elves!