The sushi conveyor analogy Print E-mail
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sushiTightly organised in a neat suit, that’s the least you can say about the many delightful types of sushi Japan has brought to the rest of the world. The tight organisation is illustrated by the specific sequence of ingredients by which each sushi has to be built up. The neat suit is represented by the freshness of the ingredients and the stately view emerging from a usually mouth fitting dish.     

Tightly organised and in a neat suit are also the mass of Japanese who brave on a daily base the morning and evening rush in the well organised traffic of Tokio, Kobe or other Japanese metropolis. If you didn’t experience it live, I’m quite sure that news or other media already bombarded your retinas with images of Japanse metros that always seem to be overcrowded, yet being always sharp on time as well. An example of efficient mass transport.

And then when you’re visiting certain Japanese restaurants, you have the combination of both. Sushi that are transported on a conveyor belt, nicely aligned, ‘whether or not en masse’ reaching the hungry stomachs. You probably didn’t realise it, yet the speed and frequency with which your favorite colorful bite is reaching your hungry you is dependent on the time at which you enter the restaurant. Do you arrive at the start of a ‘service’ – as we have to say it nowadays – or almost at the end, another culinary experience will be your share. 

Scenario 1: You arrive at the start of the service. The cooks – obviously also tightly dressed in their white costume – are placing the 20 different types of sushi on the conveyor belt, one by one. It looks like a bead necklace where the differently colored beads follow-up each other in the same color-order over and over again. Is someone taking your favorite sushi from the belt right in front of your nose? It’s no problem, as very soon afterwards that specific sushi’s lookalike will follow, allowing you to nibble it right away. If you arrive at the start of the service you will not at all have to wait a longtime for the precious gem you’re craving for. Sushi pass en masse your nose and there will be no moment at which the mass transport will let your appetite wait, even not if you’re permanently longing for your favorite little dish. 

Scenario 2: You arrive quite late in the service. The cooks – still in tight suit, yet possibly with some colorful culinary stains on sparkling white – suffer a little as they see that the number of visitors is already diminishing quite a bit. Hence the conveyor belt is not fully covered with sushi anymore. The cooks are already producing less of those Japanese bites you’re longing for, such avoiding that too much of them would end up their life in the garbage bin. You notice that the situation will be even more complex: 5 out of the 20 sushi are not in favor of the diners that day, so relatively spoken the cooks are making even less of them compared to the other types of sushi. And then you’re of course that one diner with those taste buds that bring you to culinary heaven when you’re eating one of those 5. And to crown it all, there’s also that one specific person that’s sitting at a table that – taking into account the direction of movement of the belt – is nourished before you. Exactly that person that seems to have the same palate that you have, hence that one person that walks with your favorite snack.

Given the late arrival you’re hungry as a bear, yet exactly at that moment the fulfillment of your appetite is hindered by another mass transport regime than the one you would have enjoyed when you would have put your legs under the table one hour before.     

Aside from bringing culinary pleasures and the joy of companionship a delightful diner also starts up a chain of chemical processes in our body. Part of these processes bring you gradually to the glorious feeling of saturation. When you arrive early, your favorite bites may quite rapidly bring you to that state of ‘I’m full’. When you arrive late, than it will take some more time before the feeling of saturation rejoices you, even more if you’re always going to wait for that one out of those five from twenty.

When you arrive early, reaching the state of saturation will not be controlled by the quantity and frequency of the different sushi that pass your table. When you arrive late, you’ll have to wait and reaching your vibe of saturation will be controlled by the quantity and frequency of that one type of sushi that makes your mouth water and makes you longing for ‘one more of the same’.

When you arrive early, the chemical processes that lead to saturation are not controlled by the sushi mass transport. When you arrive late, it will only be through sushi mass transport controlled processes that you will arrive at the my-stomach-is-full feeling.

It’s the same with many chemical reactions. An example: The risk of intergranular corrosion of stainless steels is largely influenced by whether the diffusion of chromium atoms through the steel structure is mass transport controlled or not. A chromium mass transport controlled situation can e.g. lead to so-called ‘sensitisation’ in the heat affected zone (HAZ) of a weld. If the HAZ of a stainless steel weld is sensitised, the risk of intergranular corrosion rises considerably from the moment water or another electrolyte would come into contact with the sensitised area.

Do you want to learn more on corrosion, welding and/or their mutual relation? Just send me a LinkedIn message. WELCOME !

To conclude

In all industrial and societal sectors many processes are mass transport controlled. Energy production, pharmacy, biology, food production and consumption (hurray to sushi and also more and more Spanish tapas on a transport belt) and, not to forget, transport. The latter is not only about metro systems in Japan, yet also about ...

When driving by car or by train runs smoothly without delay, no mass transport controlled process is nibbling from your valuable time.

Trapped in slow traffic or a traffic jam? Then you’re suffering from a mass transport controlled transportation process.

To finalise a tip for your weekend or holidays: When you go to amusement parks, choose those attractions where there’s (almost) no mass transport controlled shuffling in the waiting line, unless queuing is one of your hobbies.  

Have fun !