Crunching the numbers on the world’s toughest logistics challenge

Posted on 24 Dec 2014 by Jonny Williamson

Global enterprise applications company, IFS has worked out that Santa’s magic sleigh has to travel at 25 times the speed of sound to ensure all 120m of his presents are delivered this Christmas.

Every year Father Christmas sets off from his HQ in Lapland tasked with delivering presents to children the world over. Using IFS Mobile Workforce Management with dynamic scheduling, it’s been calculated that Santa would need to travel at 19,210* mph from bedtime to sunrise in in order to travel the 144,000 miles required to deliver presents.

Rudolph and team will need 3,660 tonnes of carrots to fuel them through the night. The reindeer, in turn, will pull over 180,000 tonnes of toys (and packaging) in the magic sleigh. Assuming a standard shot of brandy is served up at the households Santa visits he will consume over 4.7m pints of brandy over the course of the night,  putting him roughly 60m times over the legal limit.

Calculating Santa’s optimal route using the IFS scheduling engine required a number of logistical assumptions to be made in order to arrive at the total of 120m presents to be delivered:

  • About one third of the world’s population are believed to celebrate Christmas
  • Children under three have no idea who Santa is and over eight they no longer believe in him. Fact.
  • Assuming US demographics hold true, about 10% of the population is this age range: so that’s 200m potential believers worldwide
  • Assuming 10% of children work out the “Santa” situation sooner, 10% have parents that don’t uphold the Santa myth for ideological reasons, 10% who don’t uphold gift-giving for financial reasons and 10% who have different beliefs on Christmas – that leaves an estimated number of potential believers at 120m– assuming two kids per family, that’s 60m chimneys to squeeze down.

The route allows one minute per 10m population, to unload at each country. Therefore not all of Christmas Eve will spent travelling: a lot of time is spent loading and unloading the magical sleigh. The actual distance travelled will be 144,000 miles assuming he needs to visit every country.

IFS Dynamic Scheduling Engine (DSE) is deployed around the world by more than 6,000 users to optimise the scheduling of all kinds of field resources from technicians to assets alike. It uses powerful algorithms to automate and optimise scheduling decisions based on configurable and reconfigurable business constraints, transforming a service operation into a more efficient profit center.

*All findings in this report are subject to a variety of logistical assumptions – some of which are naughty, some of which are nice.