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Continente Siete (C7) is not only a consulting firm, but also a partner for its clients, seeking high impact interventions (in quality and time duration) that would lead them to an upgraded level of performance.

Among all the projects and business areas where C7 has been working on, it can be mentioned the consulting service on S&OP process, Demand Planning and Forecasting. Based on the principle exposed before, the training and knowledge transferring to the client are part of the service given. This allows C7 develop methodologies and tools for specific use according to each particular case and the clients get not only the solutions but also the knowledge of how to obtain the best use from them.

The “Advanced Forecasting Course” developed for Unilever Brazil is a case of the relationship of knowledge sharing. The course had the aim of providing the participants with all the required know-how and techniques that would allow them to improve the demand planning and forecasting in Unilever. After two years of consulting relation with them, Continente Siete knew the opportunities and necessities that Unilever had, and the course was then designed to cover those gaps, also in alignment to the company’s objectives.

The course starts with some basic modules where issues regarding S&OP process and supply chain area are discussed, in order to let participants understand the context and impact of demand forecasting in business results. There are also modules regarding times series models where logics, strengths and weaknesses for each model are evaluated. Do you know when to use a weighted moving average model or the Holt’s method? Can you use the Winter’s method when the historical series shows a trend component?

The following modules include more complex issues, like the understanding and use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Behavior Indicators (KBIs) –a C7’s development of new kind of indicators-, to evaluate the forecasting performance and mainly to understand the type of series the user is dealing with: does they show trend? What about seasonality or volatility?. All these concepts then put together in a C7’s methodology development for forecasting, named: MAP (Model Assignment Process).

The final modules include more advanced issues like: methodologies to include price impact on the forecasting process, the impact of investments in different (type of) events, innovation forecast, range forecasting, Montecarlo Simulation, alternatives for “history cleaning process”, regressions and cannibalization effects. During the training days, C7 also introduces other possible approaches, such as Data Mining, Neural Networks, System Dynamics, Simulation and Artificial Intelligence. The course is complemented with a forecasting contest where participants compete in making the best forecast based on the knowledge brought during the training course.

Finally, it is sought a real application for all those trained issues by the participants on their day-to-day activities. To do that, they carry out an application project during three months where they study, define, develop, evaluate and suggest changes in the processes.

During 2012, C7 started, together with Unilever, the 2nd “Advanced Forecasting” Training Course that finished last January with great success. All Demand Planners have gone through the training allowing them count with technical and business knowledge that led to a significant improvement of the forecasting accuracy results for the company. At the same time, the application projects showed a great level of advance in methodology to be implemented in the Forecasting process.

C7’s objective is to be the client’s partner and to generate high leverage interventions. And the Advanced Forecasting Course for Unilever is a success case in that sense.

“Never regard study as a duty, but as an enviable opportunity to enter the wonderful and beautiful world of knowledge”. Albert Einstein.

The Market Behavior:

December 28, 2012 — Deja un comentario
 

What if you are a company competing in a challenging market. You would have to make decisions in order to increase your profit and the amount of sales.
 
You might consider that consumers will choose the company that brings them more benefit taking into account certain factors.
 
The questions would be: what decisions do I make as a company? Which factors are more relevant for consumers? How do I get an advantage from my competition? How do I react to my competitor´s moves?
 
 
So to answer these questions we developed a model that is a simplified representation of a dynamic market, with the following assumptions:
  • There is one product sold by multiple companies that are price-setters ( 0.1≤ Price≤1 ).
  • Each company produces according to demand, they don’t stock product.
  • Each company decides to produce the product with a certain level of quality (1≤ Quality ≤10  ).
  • A company´s initial price and quality is randomly assigned according to a uniform distribution within the range.
  • The company´s variable cost increases with the square of the quality it produces.
  • All companies have the same fixed costs.
  • All companies have a target market share according to:

                                   Target Mkt.Sh.= 1.15×(∑ consumer)/(∑company)

  • A company’s state is discretely defined by two variables: profit and market share.
  • There are four possible states for a company:
  • Star: Profit > 0 and Mkt. Sh. > Target Mkt. Sh.
  • Cash-Cow: Profit < 0 and Mkt. Sh. > Target Mkt. Sh.
  • Question Mark: Profit > 0 and Mkt. Sh. < Target Mkt. Sh.
  • Dog: Profit < 0 and Mkt. Sh. < Target Mkt. Sh.
  • Each company will follow one of two set strategies: price-driven competition and quality-driven competition.
  • Each user agent consumes only one product.
  • The product a user consumes is chosen to maximize his utility function.
  • The utility function for each consumer is:
  • U(P,Q)=P^α Q^(1-α)            P: price, Q: quality
  • Users’ α parameter are distributed according to a uniform distribution between [0,1]
  • Users continually reevaluate the utility of all products in the market and adjust their consumption decision.
  • In the model you may choose the amount of companies that are competing on the market.

While proving the model you might notice that:

  • Under the specified assumptions, the price strategy trumps the quality strategy.
  • There is a better chance of higher consumption diversity when the market has fewer companies.
  • The higher the competition the lower the profits.
You can try the model we developed here: http://www.runthemodel.com/models/934/

No, success is something I don´t wish on anybody. It´s like what happens to mountain climbers; they kill themselves to get to the top and when they get there, what do they do? Climb down, or try to do so, discreetly, with as much dignity as possible. - Gabriel García Márquez

The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi was held on Sunday November 4. The final podium was conformed by Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. If we look at the drivers’ championship to this date, this result is not surprising. However, if we look at the career development, the final positions could seem bewildering. How could such a result have occurred? Only these drivers seem to be able to accomplish a feat of this magnitude: the first one of them, winning with a less developed Lotus vehicle, the second starting sixth with a F2012 which in recent competitions does not meet his demands and the third, with all the opponents in front of him.
But is this really surprising? Honestly, no.
The reason for this deduction is based on the existence of an archetypal behavior which explains how a success can explain a new future success: the success of the successful.

Success to the Successful archetype

In this archetype there is competition between two or more actors who share a given limited resource among themselves, from the results achieved in the first instance, and then reuse this resource to generate a new competitive advantage with a direct result on the next competition. Thus, one who achieved the first victory has an advantage that may favor him in the next instance, with a forecast in his favor that, if carried out, will then extend his advantage, gaining momentum advantage at the expense of the other competitors.

To better understand this behavior we can rely on the following article which lists ten reasons justifying it, carried to the field of sports. Listed are some aspects such as the morale and self-determination, more difficult to quantify; but are also other factors, such as the press, the continuity and the invitation to best practices, reinforcing the theory of success.

Is this always the case? Clearly, not. In response, there is another article which warns of the possibility of falling into the obsession of success. In short, the author stresses the importance of not evaluating success by the success in itself, but to find ways to measure not only focused on the outcome. If so, would pose a possible solution to this archetype, avoiding entering the success to the successful behavior (and the consequent failure of failure).

What other options exist to overcome this vicious circle?
The best response is to always stay one step ahead: be proactive and take the initiative to carry out all necessary action to achieve a significant advantage over the competition. This means acting big.
Finally, the definitive way to avoid entering a bond of this type is to leverage on oneself: in order to have control over the desired success, and to escape from result-determining performances, it is necessary to start with a good attitude, and work in this internal communication, as described in this latter publication.

As a final conclusion, we can say that this type of behavior can be expected in any circumstances in which you compete for a common resource and that, if sustained, can be very detrimental to any of those affected and, ultimately, for the overall system. It is your own responsability to depart from this model with  cooperation and a global goal as the best solution in the long run.

C7 reads

October 26, 2012 — Deja un comentario
Since its beginnings, there were very few requirements for each new C7 employee. As time went by,
some basic conditions were added, each of them with its corresponding learning system, to carry out in the first months of activity.

However there is a first condition that survived from those early days and that remains valid today: reading.
An old rumour, which has already become myth, says that Hari Seldon himself predicted C7′s foundation, while working in his theory about the Galactic Empire decline. In his honor, The Foundation (I. Asimov) is the first non-theoretical book recommended for anyone who wants to understand what is done within Continente Siete.
In contrast, in The Fifth Discipline (P. Senge) is where one can find better answers in terms of operational and theoretical aspects. These help you understand the mindset and approach taken in most problems, and the subsequent resolution.
The last member of the founding triad is The Black Swan (N. Taleb). This book serves as a constant reminder that those premises which are assumed as valid are not always so, thereby driving a constant review of every working paradigm.
Numerous literary works were added to these three books, such as Statistical Inference and Design of Experiments (R. García), Six Pixels of Separation (M. Joel), Pride and Prejudice (J. Austen), The Courage of Truth (M. Foucault), The Tipping Point (M. Gladwell). Each one of them has an owner who lends it so that anyone interested can read it, scoring on a sheet that serves as a record and control, to avoid  losing anything on the way.
Together, these books foster the habit of reading, both as educational and for the simple pleasure of reading. In fact, our library is near the arm chairs, inviting anyone who has some time off to visit at any point.
So the next time you come, we invite you to look through all these books. I am sure you’ll find one that catches your eye, allowing you to pause your activities, have a coffee and read, read, read.

Leer, leer, leer, vivir la vida
que otros soñaron.
Leer, leer, leer, el alma olvida
las cosas que pasaron.
Se quedan las que quedan, las ficciones,
las flores de la pluma,
las solas, las humanas creaciones,
el poso de la espuma.
Leer, leer, leer; ¿seré lectura
mañana también yo?
¿Seré mi creador, mi criatura,
seré lo que pasó?
- Miguel de Unamuno -
This time I’m going to delve in a more philosophical or theoretical aspect. Is quite an open-ended thing, so don´t expect a straight up point!
It all begins because many times we found ourselves (in C7) talking about systems, whether it’s about defining a problem, understanding the dynamics of a situation, or trying to leverage the emergent of a system.
On the many different ways to define what a system actually is, it is usual to compare it to a “bunch of parts” and talk about how on a system these parts interact, have a structure, a purpose or something. We are not concerned about this aspect now, we are assuming a mild understanding of what a system actually is.
The line that I want to draw this time, albeit blurry and wide, is the difference between what we can interpret and analyze as a system, and what needs to be taken as a whole. This is why we’ll be talking about the ontological and epistemological realms.

hmmmmmm…. reaaaaally?
Ontological refers to an “entity”, what may be called a “thing in itself”. Think of a person, which is “a thing in itself” regardless of being constituted by many different parts. If we set these parts apart, the person is no more, and putting things back together won´t bring the person back. It has specific properties that emerge on it´s own level of aggregation, like character, emotions, self-consciousness, and so on.
On the other hand, Epistemological refers to a “unit of knowledge” or “what can be known”, regardless of the kind of bond that ties it together. Think of a group of people, like a mob. Even though they might behave as one, with emergent properties, you can separate them, and after a while put them back together, and they´ll be able to exhibit the same behavior. It seems quite similar in it´s properties to an ontological person, but it´s complexity can be reduced.*
*We´ll be talking about irreductible complexity some other time
This difference is better taken, or understood, in relation to the quintessential concept of “emergence”. Let’s see how these different fields take on this:

onthological emergence: apparition of a qualitative novelty,
epistemological emergence: unpredictability from lower levels.

So, for instance, even if we know that a given phenomenon is caused by the interaction of many parts, like a mob, it’s very different the approach we’ll take if we are studying the movement of the people through a set of stairs and halls or if we are looking at the explosion of violence that can occur inside mobs.
In the first case, we can successfully, and sufficiently, model it understanding the “decision rules” of every individual for themselves, and see what happens when those rules interact. We do not need to assign a “mood” to the mob, or a transcendent purpose or a hierarchy. Accounting for the individual rules we can model the emergent behavior. But we cannot establish a direct, obvious link between the individual rules and the whole. This is easy to see in bird flocks, whose movement is unpredictable, even though we can know with a high certainty what every individual bird does.
On the second case, it is not enough to look at any individual, as there are some properties that are shared between all the elements inside the mob. The “violence”, “excitement”, or the maintenance of it, is not located on any individual, but rather on the interaction between them. If a leader is taken out, another individual will probably take it’s place. Actions can be coordinated between different sections of the mob, and there is a threshold quantity of people so that this phenomenon takes place. Under this “critical mass”, nothing happens, even if the “most violent individuals” are present. So in this case we need to look at the mob as a whole, with a given structure and mechanisms, but largely indivisible.
Why does that matter? Well, it serves as a framework to tell what “is” from what we “see as”. What has existence of its own and what is an apparent unit. This serves us to consider for instance a methodology for approaching an issue, or the level of aggregation we can use to describe the lower or higher levels that we are interested into.
This perspective may not change what we actually end up doing on a given task or problem, but is an important reality check, and it´s a big clue to help us set the way the analysis takes place. It will help us answer some things: “Are we asking the right question?”, “Is this one problem or a set of related, smaller problems?”, “Do we need other tools, or disciplines, to tackle this thoroughly?”, and so on.
Perhaps this is no more than a brain teaser, but if it gets you to be more conscious about the way to approach different problems, then it´s a double win.

Flush the toilet

October 12, 2012 — Deja un comentario

Flush the toilet…

..and check which way water spins!

It may sound new to some people and it may ring a bell to others when it comes to the question: which way does water spin when you flush the toilet? The answer will come later.
There are several forces involved in the motion of an object, but there is one special effect that appears when the analysis takes place in a rotating reference frame. The latter term refers to a non-inertial reference frame rotating relative to an inertial one, in which case Newton’s laws cannot describe properly the forces involved unless fictitious forces are used.
We can now discuss, for instance, the centrifugal forces; but it is more interesting to learn about Coriolis Effect. It was in 1835 when a French engineer-mathematician called Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis described this “force”. Any object in motion in a rotating reference frame is accelerating by a force perpendicular to its motion. Even though this force does not exist because of a physical interaction, it creates a deflection on the path of an object due to the motion of the coordinate system, i.e. the Earth. This is why this kind of effect can only be appreciated at large scale, when the object´s  speed is greater than the ground’s.
Three aspects are related to the Coriolis Effect. First of all, the motion of the Earth is the rotating frame reference, but the effect weakens as we approach to the equator in a horizontal direction. That is why the latitude is another aspect to take into account. Finally, the motion of the object will also determine the magnitude of the Coriolis Effect.
Some examples can be seen both in natural and human developments. When it comes to natural sources, this effect is shown by the motion of great lakes and oceans, even the wind. On the other hand, the deflection planes or missiles evidence when travelling mostly from one hemisphere to another is also because of the mentioned effect.
Image 1. Large-scale wind patterns
 

All in all, we now know there is an effect named Coriolis which impact depends on the reference time-frame and affects our everyday-life (and in greater magnitude if you are further the Equator). But, can we really see it if we flush the toilet at home?

I am sorry to disappoint you guys! But if you flush the toilet in the Northern hemisphere or in the Southern, the swirl (vortex) generated only depends on the lavatory itself and other irregularities of the surface, because the speed of the drain is faster than the one generated by the Coriolis Effect. If you really want to verify the effect, you have to use a bigger recipient and tons of water. In laboratory circumstances, i.e. certain temperature and latitude, letting the water set still; then the conditions are set to evidence the Coriolis Effect when the Earth’s movement is slower than the one of the water relative to its container.

Cadáver exquisito

September 21, 2012 — Deja un comentario
¡El viernes 14 de septiembre tuvo lugar el primer cadáver exquisito en el Continente! En el mismo participamos 10 autores: Lauta, Nico, Fede, Jony, Juli, Mechi, Ini, Migue, Afro, Baco.

Fundamento

Un cadáver exquisito es una composición colectiva – normalmente un texto o un dibujo – en la que cada autor no conoce más que las últimas palabras o líneas del autor anterior, y compone su parte a partir de las mismas. Al finalizar la composición, lo que se obtiene es una secuencia de fragmentos con un mínimo vínculo entre cada uno pero que, en términos generales, puede resultar en una coherencia sorprendente.
El objetivo principal, en nuestro caso, fue desarrollar las capacidades de escritura y de creatividad, con una actividad que a su vez fomente la interacción grupal. Justamente por esto, se decidió planificar la tarea de modo de poder escribir todos al mismo tiempo, y no secuencialmente.

Metodología utilizada

Puesta en común: tema y frases

Después de un muy entretenido debate, decidimos que el título del cadáver sería La primavera del cangrejo, y se trataría de un cuento de historias naturales (al estilo de Horacio Quiroga). Asimismo, elegimos frases que servirían de nexo entre cada uno de los textos, y sorteamos el orden de escritura. Ya con las frases y el título del cuento definidos, nos dedicamos a escribir nuestras partes, con la condición de mantenernos dentro de las 4 a 10 líneas cada uno. Finalmente juntamos las partes y, tras el almuerzo, leímos entre todos el resultado.
A continuación, ¡nuestro primer cadáver exquisito!

La primavera del cangrejo

La marea subió, y el atardecer de ese día soleado se esfumaba por el horizonte. Hortensia barrenó la última ola y decidió volver a la playa. Venía caminando por el fondo del mar, cuando dos peces de colores fluorescentes se le acercaron.

-Disculpa, me llamo Roberto – el más rojo le dijo – Con mi amigo estamos buscando la fiesta de las aletas coloradas, ¿sabés dónde es?

Hortensia no se ubicaba mucho por esos mares, pero decidió ayudarlos a llegar.

-Muchas gracias – le dijo el otro pez. Esa voz le resultaba familiar, era él, lo miró y le dijo a Nemo:

-¡Vos sos actor de Hollywood!

Nemo miró con cara de quien se sabe famoso, pero quiere mantener los pies sobre la tierra:

-Bueno, Hollywood… A veces voy a un evento o dos de esos, ¡pero me gusta pensarme más como un pez con suerte!

Hortensita lo miraba y sus ojos desorbitados no podían ocultar su fascinación por el personaje. A decir verdad, en la película estaba mucho más limpio y colorido, pero en vivo se notaban los detalles de las escamas brillantes y desprolijas, mucho más reales y atractivas para la joven cangrejita.

-¡Woooow, me encantó tu película! ¡Siempre sueño que me hago famosa actuando de princesa cangreja!

-Y sí… mucho sueñan eso, pero al final se da cuando menos lo buscás…

Nemo miró su reloj pulsera sumergible, y con cara de apurado dijo:

-¡Hora de mi entrenamiento diario!

Y sin despedirse, Nemo salió a entrenar sus aletas.

Hortensia no lo siguió y, solitaria, se sorprendió soñando lúcida; sucesivas imágenes de lo que le podría ocurrir a su compañero invadieron sus ojos. Como a la mayoría de los cangrejos, nunca le había gustado nadar, pero ante una aterrante visión de Nemo siendo masticado por veinte barracudas barrigudas, en un violento ataque vomitivo de impulsividad, decidió saltar del borde del arrecife y se lanzó hacia el abismo. Mientras caía lentamente ante la resistencia del agua pensaba:

-¿Qué estoy haciendo? ¡Yo jamás haría esto! ¿Está realmente pasando?

Hay un lugar donde no hay luz, donde no hay primavera, donde no hay sueños, donde la realidad y la ficción más fantasiosa se entremezclan como los tentáculos de dos pulpos en una pulseada. Donde no amanece: el fondo del mar.

Amanece en el barco, amanece en el mar.

Los primeros rayos de sol comienzan a escabullirse entre los párpados de Hortensia, obligándola a transitar el sendero que separa el sueño de la realidad. A medida que el mundo real gana terreno, un agudo dolor de cabeza la invade. Cubriendo sus ojos del sol con sus tenazas, se dijo a sí misma:

-Que resaca hermano, no puedo más.

Y luego, sin mirar a su compañero y con los ojos aún cerrados, le dijo:

-Che Nemo, pasame las aspirinas.

Pero Hortensia se enteró de que él se había ido.

Con él también se fueron los barcos, alejándose de la orilla en busca de pesca fresca de primavera. Hortensia se encontró sola y sin saber cómo protegerse en esta nueva temporada. Su sentido de la orientación todavía no estaba tan desarrollado y los procedimientos de los pescadores le eran desconocidos. La costa parecía ser un lugar seguro para esperar el anochecer. Tal vez ahí encontrara mas cangrejos a lo cuales podría unirse. Solo necesitaba entender hacia dónde debía caminar. Pero se encontraba en un lugar tan profundo que era imposible saber que dirección tomar. Le pareció ver haces de luz y se dirigió en ese sentido. Sin embargo cuando llegó al lugar comprendió que algo arriba suyo provocaba ese efecto. Un barco tal vez. Permaneció en el lugar y la luz se fue perdiendo de a poco hasta llegar a una negrura total.

-El fondo era más oscuro de lo esperado – piensa Hortensita.

-¿siempre será así? – dice para sus adentros mientras nada en la olla, grande y oscura.

Recuerda su niñez, sus paseos en la arena donde papá cangrejo le contó que en primavera los humanos reconectan con el nacer, con la vida, y no son tan propensos a matar para comer, prefieren una dieta verde, frutas y verduras que se entregan para alimentar. Sigue nadando, y recordando. Agua cada vez más caliente de por medio, se topa con un langostino que la mira afligido y suspira:

-¿Y la primavera? ¿No llegaba ahora? ¿Nos mintieron?

Una vieira lo abraza y casi para sus adentros suspira:

-Primavera, por favor, primavera.

Se sintió bien, no estaba sola. Al final, ella no era la única…todos esperaban la primavera.

Es que ya estaban cansados del frío del mar y la arena golpeando en sus cuerpos y rutinas. Hasta que al fin el invierno terminó, pudieron salir de sus cuevas, enfrentarse con el sol cálido y los turistas que llegaban a sus playas, pensaron que ahora sí iban a poder disfrutar. Y eso fue lo que pasó, se alegraron cada mañana al despertarse, Hortensita estaba feliz y pensaba que sus penas habían terminado. Pero luego de unos días algo falló, su destino se volvió a opacar… Como todos saben, la primavera termina.

Como todos saben, la primavera también comienza.

¡E incluso a veces es primavera, si tenemos suerte!

Y nuestra historia transcurre justamente en primavera, lo cual es poco común. Esto no debe sorprenderlo, querido lector, ya que también Hortensia era una cangreja poco común.

Se había percatado ella solita de su naturaleza especial. No por nada debía asistir a colegios especiales, aceptar amigos especiales, y hasta comer algas para nada ricas, pero especiales al fin. Al mismo tiempo, sus padres, biólogos genéticos de renombre en aquella región marítima, le recordaban con constancia e intensidad que ella había nacido para “ser especial”, y que las restricciones que le imponían eran sólo por su propio bien.

Hortensia existía dentro de una burbuja de confusión y aceptación.

-¿Por qué no puedo disfrutar como los demás cangrejos, las bondades del mar?

-¿Por qué debo comer solo alimentos preparados para mi?

-¿Por qué estoy confinada a las paredes del laboratorio de experimentos de mis padres?

-¿Y por qué, cada vez que me enfurezco, mis tenazas exponen un brillo incandescente verde fluo, al mismo tiempo que comienzan a agrandarse desmesuradamente?

Estaba confundida, decidida a cambiar.

De a poquito, fue rebelándosele a los hábitos impuestos. Empezó por demandar comer algo que realmente le gustara, con la esperanza de que este primer paso fuera fácil.

A caparazón firme, se acercó al sector de Nutrición del laboratorio, se plantó delante de Gutiérrez, el encargado, y le dijo:

-Quiero una crema helada de fitoPlankton.

Gutiérrez se congeló. Entendió la situación, pero decidió desligarse y llamar a Galíndez, el chef de turno. Galíndez se acercó, después de escuchar la historia, y frunció el entrecejo:

-Hortensia, ¿Estás segura de lo que haces? – le preguntó mientras se rascaba sus avejentadas branquias.
-Si – su voz, firme como la nariz de un tiburón martillo.

El chef miró a Hortensia a los ojos. Sabía de su deseo de vivir, y deseaba no ser el encargado de poner fin a semejante aventura. Pero el deber obliga, y tenía la orden de hacer ese plato específico de cena. Aun así, y en un aire de valentía, liberó a la pobre cangreja, soltándola a su suerte en el mar, e improvisó un intento de cangrejo con otros ingredientes del lugar.

Llegó el momento de presentarle el plato a tan famoso comensal, y con manos temblorosas fue él mismo el encargado de entregar la presa. Sin embargo, no contaba con la respuesta del personaje, respuesta que cambiaría su humor y le devolvería el aire al cuerpo:

-No gracias, soy alérgica a los crustáceos


The development of new technologies for storing renewable energy seems to be a key aspect for the energetic “turnaround”. With this post we want to illustrate this point, and motivate you to keep reading and learning about what is going on in the fascinating world of clean energies.

This article shows some results and challenges of using lithium ion batteries connected to the energy generators: the fluctuating supply of electricity based on photovoltaics and wind power can be stored until the time of peak consumption”.



http://www.energyharvestingjournal.com/articles/storage-systems-for-renewable-energy-00004648.asp?sessionid=1

A fundamental requirement of energy supply, comes from strong fluctuation in energy consumption. With appropriate storage and fast discharge, energy requirements during peaks in energy consumption can be supplied with minimum “effort”. This means being able to “fluctuate” in supply, minimizing the cost of generation overall. The following article discusses the impact development of new technology could have. “When storage becomes cheap and massive, the impact will be huge.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-27/ski-lifts-help-open-25-billion-market-for-storing-power-energy.html?cmpid=yhoo

Another important reason for needing optimal storing energy comes from the fluctuation of output of the renewable sources. For example, for a 4KW photovoltaic generator, “cloud cover can cause generation to drop by 80% in just a few seconds” according to SaftBatteries.

Apart from minute-to-minute variations, we also have daily variations in the generation of both wind an solar energies, due to the obvious dependency of climatic variables. As an example, the following graph shows energy output for wind generation in Ireland for different days:

So, not only is storage important for “demand-buffering” but also for “supply-buffering”. Apparently, it is the current bottleneck for a potential massive conversion to clean energies. It is not an easy challenge, but the first step of recognizing the problem has been made.
The following links show different experiments using super-capacitors with pen ink and iron-air batteries as alternatives:
Are any of them definite solutions? Apparently not yet, but the wind seems to be blowing on our backs, pushing us forward to a new world…

Seeking true Matrix

September 7, 2012 — Deja un comentario
Once upon a time… Matricks!

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember… all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

What about the red pill? Are we sure we want to know anything about the rabbit-hole? We are usually working on models, making our own representations of reality. It is part of our job, to make our own matrix, in order to interact with it, looking for the truth, either the truth in the past or the expected one in the future. Bottom line, we´re in charge of making things work, first in fiction and then in reality.
Morpheus: What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this [holds up a Duracell battery].
Neo: No, I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.
Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.

But, how can we do to make those things work? Mainly, we need a good vision of reality, given by people who interact in that reality. Once we know what has to be represented, the first step is already being taken.
Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

As a comparison between what we do and the concept behind the film (and because we are big fans of it), we decided to make a simple model that represents the way we act, just for doing it. This is how Matricks was born, with basic controls and a hidden truth behind the numbers, that we hope you enjoy discovering!

Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

Press on the red pill to run the model

Note: the name “matricks” arises from the conjunction of “Matrix” and “tricks”, due to the trick hidden in the model

Redes Sociales y la empresa

Las Redes Sociales de Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) vienen cobrando cada vez más protagonismo. Hasta en el mundo de los negocios, hoy forman parte de la Comunicación Digital de cualquier empresa. En Continente Siete vemos el valor de estos canales, y hemos estado tratando de apalancarlos desde un principio.
Mantener la disciplina

Los Canales Digitales admiten altos niveles de información. Es por eso que muchas empresas optaron por crear equipos dedicados para la creación de contenido y la comunicación en los mismos. En Continente Siete buscamos la participación de todo C7er (y el tamaño de la empresa no justifica tener a una persona dedicada únicamente a estos canales) por eso intentamos un enfoque diferente.


Hace aproximadamente un año, un equipo de 3 personas dedicó sus días D (día dedicado al desarrollo de proyectos de interés personal) en entender y establecer los usos correctos de cada canal. El output de este proyecto fue el armado de una política de comunicación descentralizada, con pautas y guías para un efectivo uso, en donde cada C7er puede efectuar una comunicación oficial de Continente Siete por estas vías.


Resultados: el nivel de comunicación aumentó significativamente. Sin embargo, el costo de generación de contenido era alto y el incentivo bajo, llevando a un flujo esporádico de información que subutilizaba los canales.

Apalancando en múltiples puntos

Hace unos meses el problema recobró importancia, y un equipo de Continente Siete decidió montarse sobre la solución anterior. Esta vez, no solamente se trabajaría en la política, sino también en la organización y el incentivo.


Organización

Se usó el Trello (www.trello.com es una aplicación web que sirve como herramienta para la gestión de proyectos AGILE) y se creó un tablero para organizar el flujo de comunicación digital. En el tablero hay 3 listas: Repositorio, Programados y Posteados Recientemente. 


En el Repositorio cada C7er puede crear una tarjeta con un link a un artículo interesante, o agregar contenido propio. En esta misma tarjeta la persona se auto-asigna y sugiere a través de un código de colores los canales en los cuales cree que vale la pena comunicar.


Un encargado luego pasa estas tarjetas a Programados, en donde se le agrega una fecha de “posteo” que la persona asignada deberá respetar.


El encargado es un C7er diferente cada mes, y un Google Spreadhseet se encarga de comunicar a quién le corresponde el cargo.
Incentivo


Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts” – Wikipedia


A través de este concepto de Gamification es que se intentó agregarle incentivo al sistema. Se creó un monitor en el cual el C7er que ejecuta la comunicación debe registrar sus “posteos”. El mismo monitor muestra las últimas tendencias de los “posts” en Continente Siete, y, para cada persona, le asigna un nivel por cada canal de comunicación (por ejemplo, un C7er puede ser Level 1 Facebook, y al mismo tiempo Level 4 Blog C7). También cada C7er tiene un Puntaje y Nivel total de acuerdo a qué tanto avance tenga en los diferentes canales.
De esta manera se generan Rankings que permiten a los C7ers entrar en una sana competencia para ser el mejor comunicador.


En un futuro cercano también se agregarán Awards y premios reales para continuar en la curva ascendente de Incentivos.
Resultados y últimas palabras

Desde su implementación hemos tenido un flujo constante de comunicación a través de los diferentes canales, sin perder la calidad de la misma. La exposición ha aumentado significativamente. Si bien se agrega un costo extra que es el de registrar el “posteo”, el beneficio por facilitar la creación de contenido y por el incentivo, parece ser mayor.


Queda por re-analizar los parámetros de uso correctos de cada canal, ya que no queremos saturarlos y perder audiencia por esto.

Gracias Jose, Mechi, Migue y Juancho por ayudar a armar este programa!

Ahora, aprovecho y me sumo un puntito en el Blog C7.