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The Physical Internet – changing logistics

Posted by Dominic Hordern 4 months ago

Who doesn’t like pie? Sorry wrong type of pie, I mean  or PI or the Physical Internet.

If you’re asking “what?” then you’re probably not alone.  The idea behind the Physical Internet is about applying the way the digital internet works to the real world. Most notably in logistics.

This is not just about using technology to improve logistics but about taking the way in which the internet allows you to send an e-mail with all your holiday snaps to your mother and applying it to how you get your new phone delivered.

How does the internet transfer information such as a holiday snap? First it takes the item you are sending and breaks it down into packets of data. Each packet is limited to a small manageable size. So your picture might be broken down into 2,000 packets. Each packet has a wrapper that states (using a common language) what kind of data is contained within the packet and how to put it back together with the other packets to make the picture again. All the packets are then sent over the internet to their destination and reassembled.

Now the clever bit is that the packets don’t all travel down the same route. They can take any number of different paths to their destination and once all there they get unpacked and put back together. This creates speed in the process.

If you can apply these concepts to logistics – standard sized and shaped containers, common communication systems and multiple routes connected to hubs – then conceivably you can revolutionise the logistics world.

What might this mean for the property world? Well here are a few thoughts to start with:

  1. Will there be more but smaller logistics hubs?
  2. Will there be less but bigger logistics super-hubs?
  3. If better shared hubs with multiple users and operators working together are needed how will these work physically and legally?
  4. Can logistics hubs be better utilised and placed in a mixed use environment?
  5. If there are less hubs what can existing sites be used for?

This post was edited on Jan 10, 2018 by Karolina Labrenz

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