May 5 2022 | 13 Min Read

Logistics on Mars

Posted By
Wendy Mackenzie
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Logistics on Mars

It is the year 2055.

It has been a tempestuous few decades for the human species. Supply chains have waxed and waned. Artificial intelligence has breathed new life into scientific discovery, pushing back the boundaries of human knowledge beyond anything our meager minds had hitherto imagined. Oh, and Coca-Cola released a popular new flavor variant — Berry Blast — boasting a playful hint of elderberries.

We are now an interplanetary species.

The first tentative forays into space colonization began in 2039, with an ill-fated human settlement on Mars. It’s true, there were a few “regrettable incidents” in those early days (as NASA’s PR department put it), but explosive decompression, rampant cosmic radiation sickness and a spectacular outbreak of hallucinogenic space mold weren’t enough to stop us.

Discovery by discovery, we found a way to sustain human life on Mars.

Today, a thriving population of over 10,000 colonists call Mars home. Most are scientists. Some intrepid souls represent a new wave of interplanetary mining concerns. There are even a few writers and marketers there — although they’re on half rations.

On a good run, it takes roughly nine months to get supplies to this harsh new frontier. That’s almost a one-year wait for everything our frail bodies and societies need to survive and prosper — from essential medicines, to letters from home, to building materials, to tools and scientific equipment. And if just one link in this 150.5 million-mile supply chain fails? A lot of people are in a lot of trouble.

Striding into the cosmic fray, it falls to a small band of intrepid 3PLs

to make the logistically improbable …

… possible.shutterstock_1817219624

Welcome to the Age of Interplanetary Logistics

OK, lowering the volume on the heroic sci-fi soundtrack for a moment: We don’t actually know when and how humans will settle on Mars.

The timeframe and ease with which it’ll happen depends on who you ask. Consult a gazillionaire who makes spaceships and — predictably enough — you’ll get a story that steely-eyed space pioneers will be living on Mars in just a few years and change. NASA’s more moderate guesstimate: Homo sapiens may set foot on Mars somewhere in the 2030s. But there’s no firm moving date, just yet, to drop into your calendar.

Cargo SpacecraftWhen it’ll happen is up for debate, but there’s a good chance that shimmering red speck in our night sky will eventually become a planetary home away from home.

So let’s assume it does happen in our lifetime…

What does interplanetary logistics look like? What part will a 3PL like IL2000 play?

At IL2000, we’re all about tackling the big questions, so we asked three of our best and brightest to offer their take on how IL3000 (we rebranded in 2050) will adapt to supporting supply chains in the brave new era of interplanetary logistics.

Here are their answers:

1. Who are our clients?

Lynne circular

 

Lynne (Interplanetary Data Science Division)

Our main client will be the Colonial Administration. The administration will be responsible for an official commissary that delivers vital supplies to colonists — including building supplies, clothing, hygiene products, and food.

We would also service the mining companies. The backhaul on supply runs would be killer, so we’d have to have the carriers bring something back with them just to make the runs profitable. Speaking of making these runs practical, the actual asset carriers would likely need us to help put them in touch with shippers on both sides of the run to make sure their capacity is utilized to maximum efficacy.

Matt circular

 

Matt (Non-Terrestrial Account Management Branch)

The client base that we’d pursue wouldn’t vary much from our current target clients.

We already deal with many manufacturers whose products would be essential on Mars, so we’re perfectly positioned to support off-world business development: Building manufacturers on our books will send crucial structural materials; food packaging companies will help ensure a constant flow of rations reaches the Mars settlement. Even fiber manufacturers will have a role to play sending carpeting materials (because even space colonists need to feel comfortable.) I feel that we currently have a great base of clients to provide necessities to Mars.

Mario circular

 

Mario (Deep Space Logistics Planning)

We’d focus on working with clients who deliver essential products for survival. Priority business areas would include dehydrated food, potable water, emergency and medical instrumentation, medical supplies, construction materials, and communication machinery.

IL3000’s work with key clients will serve the dual purpose of helping to build a sustainable community on Mars and establishing strong brand recognition as a vital logistics partner on the Red Frontier.

 

2. What services do we provide?

Lynne circular

 

Lynne (Interplanetary Data Science Division)

We’d help the Colonial Administration stage their shipments to utilize their logistics dollars effectively. IL3000’s interplanetary BI & Analytics Division will help the administration plan usage of each inventory item by offering a deep dive into current and historical resource use patterns. This will help Mars governing bodies ensure adequate supplies reach the colony’s growing population. Mining companies would be able to minimize their logistics outlay by utilizing backhaul on the supply runs. Both admin and mining companies will benefit from this capacity optimization by inheriting reduced rates, as carriers realize that their backhaul is not wasted time and space.

Matt circular

 

Matt (Non-Terrestrial Account Management Branch)

We would continue working the way that we do now! Our goal, as always, is to be the industry experts, so we’ll keep providing continual improvements and solutions to our client base. IL3000 will be the team our clients lean on for anything and everything logistics-related.

Mario circular

 

Mario (Deep Space Logistics Planning)

One of the biggest logistics problems Martian colonists will face in those first difficult years will be that the market for essential goods is controlled by just a few large companies. There’ll be very little regulation and transparency out there, and from a supply chain standpoint that could mean disorganized practices, ineffective services and unchecked costs. Customers will have to go through a very long and expensive process to move even small items.

Just as IL2000 does today, IL3000 will provide a vital accountability and audit mechanism. We'll regulate commercial transactions and serve as a mediator to guarantee fair and competitive prices. In protecting our client's interests, we'll help safeguard the brave souls seeking an honest living on the arid red soil of our nearest planet.

 

3. How are we different from the new wave of space freight brokers offering budget interplanetary freight services?

Lynne circular

 

Lynne (Interplanetary Data Science Division)

Analytics and specialization. We always provide tailored solutions to individual client needs, unlike other brokers who offer more one-size-fits-all solutions. Our analytics will help the clients get a better handle on their lead times and supply chains.

Matt circular

 

Matt (Non-Terrestrial Account Management Branch)

Our custom TMS — of course — will be our most powerful asset to Mars-based clients. Tracking and tracing in the vast galaxy will be complex due to asteroids and meteorite showers. Our clients will want to know where their product is and the expected delivery date. Next would be Power BI. We can use data to drive continual measured improvement to our client base. Numbers do not lie. It doesn’t matter what planet you’re on; data is always the only way to make impactful business decisions.

Mario circular

 

Mario (Deep Space Logistics Planning)

IL3000 will serve as a medium, an intermediary that connects parties involved in the interstellar movement of freight.

Space freight brokers offer once-off budget interplanetary transportation but with no guarantees, no economies of scale. IL3000 will offer a wide variety of services that connect customers with Mars-specializing broker companies, interplanetary carriers, off-world legal experts, and the list goes on. Our customers will eventually be able to perform all their interplanetary supply chain tasks in a single transaction, saving both time and money. That will be the big differentiator: The long-term value we offer our customers.

 

4. You have an opportunity to help set up IL3000’s first off-world headquarters. Are you on board?

Lynne circular

 

Lynne (Interplanetary Data Science Division)

No thanks, I like my oxygen… everywhere. Send Brent from Sales.

Matt circular

 

Matt (Non-Terrestrial Account Management Branch)

Sure, why not! I think Mars needs a good Southern gentleman to keep things lively. Plus, all that vast open area means I get to race my dune buggy anywhere!

Mario circular

 

Mario (Deep Space Logistics)

I’ll go to Mars. I want to taste life on a new world firsthand. What better way to identify market gaps that’ll further IL3000’s interests?

 

Want IL2000 to be part of your future?

Whether your product’s boldly going to Mars(*) or basically going to Milwaukee, IL2000’s supply chain insight can be a big part of your future. Leveraging deep expertise across every facet of supply chain management, our vision is to help companies run better supply chains — with customized tools, steadfast thought partnership, and the relentless pursuit of imaginative solutions.

Looking for new supply chain possibilities? Hit launch today for a no-obligation analysis.

* IL2000 is currently only accepting clientele based on Planet Earth.

Topics: Entrepreneurial Spirit, Logistics History and Speculation, Supply Chain Management, Business Intelligence

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