Over 300mn delivery orders! Santa must be top-notch logistics expert

The pace of the shipments is incredible, and the distances spanned by his route are nothing less than astounding

If each present weighed just one kilogram, that would make for a load of 670 million kilograms
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 If each present weighed just one kilogram, that would make for a load of 670 million kilograms. 

Millions of children gaze into the (generally wintery) sky at Christmas, yearning for a glimpse of Santa Claus and his magical sleigh without giving a thought to the tremendous logistical challenges he overcomes on his gift-giving trip around the world.

A sober look at the figures paints an unbelievable picture. Let's start by considering that there are currently under eight billion people on the planet and 26% of them are under 15 years old. Why does age matter for our calculation? It's quite simple: only children receive their presents from Santa. Grown-ups have to manage on their own, giving gifts to each other. Or were you hoping to hear something else?

There are more than two billion children under 15 of which – roughly speaking – a third are growing up in a "Western/Christian" culture. If we take this number (670 million) and assume a statistically classic two children per household, Kris Kringle has to bring presents to an astonishing 335 million homes.

All a matter of logistics

Can you imagine the lead-up to this event? Preparing all the presents, wrapping them, tying ribbons, filling out personalised tags and various other value added services. Even today, we still don't know which warehouse management system the jolly old fellow uses up there at the north pole or whether his elves use barcode readers with a red and white striped candy cane design. It's also unclear how he even knows all the particular wishes of those millions of kids. Rumor has it he relies on a special snow globe paired with an AI system for anticipatory logistics.

One thing we can know: the cold chain logistics for chocolate aren't too challenging, thanks to the climate at the north pole. It isn't that hard to explain why no one has ever discovered any of his presumably gigantic warehouses on satellite imagery: the view from space reveals only expansive regions of snowy white. Very clever!

Huge distances under immense time pressure

The logistics behind the presents and the inconceivable number of young "delivery customers" aren't the only impressive part. The pace of the shipments is incredible, and the distances spanned by his route are nothing less than astounding: 29 percent of the planet's 511 million square kilometers is dry land. Assuming the houses are evenly distributed (as a median value between urban centers and rural regions), the homes are an average of 750 meters apart. This translates to a "last mile" distance of over 250 million kilometers, which Old Saint Nick has to travel in an extremely short time.

The greatest challenge is clearly the short delivery window. If each present weighed just one kilogram, that would make for a load of 670 million kilograms. The 24th of December has only 24 hours, although factoring in the different time zones brings this up to 36 hours. Even so, the next calculation reveals the true scope of the challenge: delivering to 2585 homes per second calls for a delivery speed of about 14 million km/h. But that is over 11,000 times faster than the speed of sound. This doesn't even include parking the sleigh or handling at the point of delivery. How does he do it? No wonder some people don't believe he exists. This is unquestionably a magical level of performance.

Santa accomplishes all these logistical feats, he definitely brings joy to many children, eases the Christmas stress of parents and – put simply – earns our respect.


(Credit: Trendletter - cargo-partner.com)

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