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B-model reflexions on peak demand, load balancing and peak demand- the Bpost case

First, let me provide you with the definition of load balancing, I am referring to, it is coming from the electric power grid to avoid crashing of the network during peak demand.

There are several techniques on an electric grid  that are used, I will not go into detail.  However I want to make the clear analogy with Bpost/PostNL  current situation, where it is having a peak demand in parcel delivery and is having difficulties to cope with it, and a logic explanation will follow why Bpost reacts the way it is doing.

When u have normal electricity usage in an electricity grid this works fine.  The issue comes with peak demands (from industry or from households in winter for example)  where u have the highest cost as a network manager. So you have a lot of costs to manage these loads.  This is also the case for water usage during a world cup soccer half time by the way.

In electricity terms, the highest cost is when you have peak demand, as supply falls short.  In case of emergency of peak demand, there are some power stations that are awaiting, and can be turned on very fast.  The peak is more expensive, and prices are higher for these peaks for industry, incentives are given to go off the grid quickly, etc...

Covid in hospitals 2020

The hospitals are not able to manage peak demand in terms of IC intensive care; the load balancing that happens than is to #lockdown the whole country, in order  to reduce the speed of spread of the virus

Covid test lab bottlenecks

Accredited labs were not able to cope with the demand in October 2020 , and the usage therefore becomes counterproductive (too many waiting time for test results not effective)

The labs become a bottle neck September 2020
The load balancing here becomes a management trick, where u make a differentiation between some urgent cases OK, and offloading the other to society that you need to stay #10 days at home.  (cost offloaded to social security system, ...)

So here is my statement. Pandemic peak comes at a higher cost.  The system looks for a load balancing and that equilibrium will put an external pressure on society to keep its own optimal equilibrium.

Other classic examples:

Highways traffic jam - toll increase

Going back to Paris, the toll is increased,  so that peak demand can be offoaded:  only the ones that wnt to pay highter are taking the road, others reduce their w.e. time and come back earliere.

Schools building

The load balancing is quite clear.  When you know demographic growth, you can beforehand foresee the number of places needed so that there is a balance between number of places in schools and number of pupils.  But why does it get wrong anyway?  Where is the pressure offloaded of non equilibrium?

So let's come to the title of the article the B post Belgian post announced a bottleneck in parcels with near doubling of parcels in the period. PostNL did the same for other reasons recently also.

How is the offloading working here? It is working on the two sides:

- Left - supply increase of costs  (small shops need to pay more)

- Right - demand /offer : explanation in press  that probably package will not be delivered, and so creating hesitation at the online shop customers.

This is the load balancing technique.  There is a fixed cost for managing a system in equilibrium (maybe also top management bonus) Than the costs of peak can be offloaded/externalised to society and there is no accountability.

Bpost and the management is only looking at itself and does so not looking how society is working and not setting the example as a public company.


Probably, a lot of the business models will really need to integrate their impact on society and the environment even more, looking at reducing the negative and increasing the positive externalities.  SDGs and other sustainable models in the centre could create this broader load balancing in society.  

As you come at the ed of the article, bravo, hope you enjoyed it.