Why are petrol stations in close proximity to one another?

Why are petrol stations in close proximity to one another?

As we had plenty of free time during last year’s lockdown period, we did a quick analysis of petrol station clustering in Malaysia. Methodology was simple; consider the stations are in a cluster if they are within 500 meters of each other. Data was scrapped from map providers.

We discovered that Shell and Petronas (the two largest O&G companies) is the most popular pair of petrol stations in close proximity with one another.

If you are at a Shell station, you will have a 30% chance of seeing a Petronas station. If you are at a Caltex station, there’s only 17% chance of seeing a Petronas station.

So why do competitors tend to cluster together?

Well this boils down a theory called Hotelling’s Model of Spatial Competition (Google it to find an excellent video on TedEd):

  • A commercial area with many competing businesses attracts more customers than an area with a single business.
  • If competing businesses are spread evenly across a large area, customers need to visit each business to get what they are searching for. This would be inconvenient to the customers because they may or may not find the item in the first one or two providers. The customer might even get frustrated/exhausted and decided not to purchase at all.
  • Having competing businesses in close proximity allows customers to ‘shop around’ and ensures customers will at least buy something.
  • Naturally new competing business will open nearby because the crowd is there. The business wont have to spend much for marketing for customer discovery because it could just ride on existing marketing and customer base of their competitors.

Now you would argue that this scenario is moot for petrol stations as they are selling regulated products (fuel price is capped). Well, do you know that petrol stations value foot-fall into their retail stores? This also explains why stations nowadays are mini-malls; they sell anything from chicken rice, to fast food and car wash.

So dont be mad on having competitors. They help the market to grow.

Internship

Two interns reported for duty today.

One is Zhen Yang, a UTAR student and an aspiring data scientist. Hailing from Ipoh, he rented a house near to our office for the next few months as he goes through our rather rigorous, industry-driven internship.

Zheng Yang will be looking at massive vehicle-sensor data available on the KATSANA Platform under the guidance of Engineering Head. We don’t allocate enough manpower to data science due to other priorities, thus having new talents in this area is very much welcomed.

Another intern is Aiman, a tall 18-year old post-high school student, whose drive and conviction to be a software engineer led me to write a rather popular LinkedIn post last week.

Aiman has no formal education in Software Engineering, yet has the drive to soak up knowledge that I haven’t seen in graduates much older than him. He made the calculated risky decision to let go of university education for a few years to be trained in an actual tech company much early on. This young man is brave.

This means we carry a huge responsibility to make sure they become good scientists & engineers. Beyond technical competency, we aim to imbue in them, good communication skills and managerial capabilities.

Wish us luck.

An electrified future is here.

Charging an electric/hybrid vehicle at a petrol station feels out of place.

In the past, refueling petrol at a gas station is an absolute necessity. There’s simply no other way to refuel except at petrol stations. Hence we plan travels for a brief pit stop to get juices for our cars, while some stop longer to buy drinks & food at the convenience store.

As such, gas stations are erected in high traffic areas; near intersections, in between two major locations, or on primary roads to cater to refueling needs. 

When EV (electric vehicle) becomes commonplace, will this behavior persist? In an electrified future, does the petrol station or dedicated charging stations with so many charging bays even relevant?

These are my hypotheses:

1. EV drivers will still drop by at petrol stations occasionally, at a much lower frequency than before.

2. Dedicated EV charging stations are only relevant for long-distance travel. Thus I pray that we will see more erected on major highways.

3. Similarly as EV becomes common, inner-city petrol stations slowly become irrelevant.

EV frees you from the need to refuel at petrol stations. It does not make sense to waste a few hours (or at least 30mins) waiting for the car to juice up at the petrol station. This inherently forces EV owners to change their behavior, with preference to recharge at the beginning of the trip, or at the end of it, seldom in between.

Which makes more sense? 

a- Spend the time waiting at a petrol station while the car is charging

b- Charge at your home, or your office, or at any road-side charging stations

The most logical & efficient step would be the ability for an EV owner to charge the car whenever the car is parked for hours. 

Power utility companies, those who own the light & electric poles stand to gain the most as we transition from ICE to EV. They already have the grid and the infrastructure. Now the likes of TNB, Sarawak Energy, and Sabah Electricity only need the technology, vision and boldness to hasten the EV revolution.

We are at the cusp of an EV revolution

Some will say EV has a long way to go before it reaches our shore. I beg to differ.

It only took ~10 years for cars to completely replace horse wagons in New York back in 1900.

A Model T, when it was introduced by Harrison Ford costed USD850, double the price of a horse wagon. A year later, the price dropped to USD609. By the year 1924, the price is now USD290.

Most car manufacturers have publicly shared their plans to be fully electric, with some already delivering competent, market-driven EVs.

  • Porsche Taycan, starts at USD150k (~RM725,000 sold by Porsche Malaysia). Already one of the most popular selling Porsches out there.
  • Volkwagen ID.3, starts at USD30k+ (Not yet in Malaysia, estimated at RM140,000), also one of the best selling new VWs with ID.4 coming up next.
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge, starts at USD55k+ (coming soon, estimated at at RM240,000), production already fully booked till the end of year.

Can’t wait.

Conviction to chart your own path in life.

Last week, I received a resume from a young man. Born in 2002, which means he has only recently exited high school. Kids his age will then enter colleges or universities.

He decided to go against the flow.

Instead of enrolling in universities to further his studies, he told me that gaining industry experience is better.

“Ive done my research. My role models adviced those keen on software engineering to soak up experience by joining a tech company. When it comes to software engineering, what universities teach is only 10-15% relevant.”

He then listed the names of star software engineers that my old brain has now forgotten.

He dressed impeccably for the first job interview in his life. Good manner, answers with clarity and was frank that our technology stack might be alien to him.

“Give me 3-4 days, I will learn this on YouTube.”

Simple answer that tells me a lot about a person.

In Katsana Holdings, we are used to having young talents joining us right after high school. They mostly help us with non-critical operations and will stick for a few months waiting for their college offers.

This young man is different. He is brave. He has conviction. He wants to play an integral part of our development team.

Young man, we shall grant you your wish.

Valuing the independence of thought

I have been trying my darndest to reduce exposure to Facebook. I’m doing this because I find myself slowly becoming part of an echo chamber.

If you have not known this by now, Facebook designs its algorithm to encourage higher engagement & higher retention on the platform. More time on Facebook = more eyeballs for its advertisements.

A direct result of this behavioral engineering is the polarisation of your news feed. You will likely be more engaged with those who share the same opinions, or on the other spectrum, you will be stalking those who don’t.

You will end up preaching to the choir and might start alienating others.

You will develop narcissistic tendencies. You are groomed to be one.

I feel that this is dangerous to my well-being.

We do not have to be reactive to every news or posting on the platform.

We should not need to have an opinion for everything.

I want to be free. To be able to understand different narratives, to be able to put myself in a different pair of shoes, and to be able to develop empathy.

Looking back, I have written and shared things in the past that I’m now regretting. I don’t want to delete those posts, for it was my past; they’ll serve as a reminder. If you were in any way feel slighted by me, I ask for your forgiveness.

Lets put effort into bringing knowledge and joy to people around us.

Love,
Fuqaha

Kesan IKEA (The Ikea Effect)

Perabot pasang-sendiri, ramuan kek segera, dan kapal terbang mainan.

Tiga benda yang berbeza, tapi mempunyai persamaan besar untuk membentuk sebuah teori psikologi kecondongan kognitif (cognitive bias) yand dikenali sebagai Kesan IKEA (The Ikea Effect).

Apakah persamaan mainan plastik, ramuan kek segera, dan perabot IKEA?

Mainan pasang sendiri oleh Airfix, United Kingdom

Pada tahun 1952, syarikat mainan Airfix membuat keputusan untuk menjual mainan-mainan mereka dalam bentuk komponen yang masih tercantum di acuan plastik. Keputusan ini dibuat untuk menjimatkan kos pengeluaran kerana mereka tidak perlu menggaji pekerja untuk memasang setiap satu mainan secara manual.

Maka berdoyong-doyonglah manusia dari kanak-kanak kepada bapa kanak-kanak terjerat dengan konsep ‘pasang-sendiri’. Saya pun tidak ketinggalan.

Sahabat yang membaca artikel ini pasti terkenang saat tangan berdarah terkena pisau semasa memotong acuan kapal terbang atau kereta lumba Tamiya Dash! Yonkuro, jari-jari yang terlekat pada gam gajah, dan saat pertama kali menggunakan cat minyak untuk memberikan keunikan pada mainan.

Ramuan Kek Segera

Pada awal 1950-an juga, suri rumah diperkenalkan satu inovasi baru yang memudahkan hidup mereka, iaitu ramuan kek segera.

Namun pada permulaannya, suri-suri rumah tidak berminat menggunakan ramuan tersebut kerana beranggapan bahawa ramuan segera ini adalah tersangat senang digunakan. Mereka risau, jika kerja memasak dijadikan terlalu mudah, maka kerja mereka yang leceh & rumit akan dipandang rendah.

Ekoran itu, pengilang ramuan kek segera lekas mengubah sedikit resipi mereka. Perubahan yang dibuat adalah mudah, iaitu resipi ramuan kek segera itu memerlukan suri rumah memasukkan sebiji telur ke dalam adunan.

Perabot pasang-sendiri IKEA

IKEA ditubuhkan oleh Ingvar Kamprad pada tahun 1943. Beliau berumur 17 tahun pada ketika itu. Ayahnya memberi sejumlah wang kerana berjaya dalam peperiksaan dan beliau menggunakan wang tersebut sebagai permulaan empayar IKEA.

Pada permulaannya, pengasas IKEA menjual pen, dompet, bingkai gambar, jam, dan juga stokin.

IKEA mula mengilang perabot sendiri pada tahun 1956 apabila pesaing-pesaing mereka memaksa para pembekal memboikot IKEA. Pada satu ketika, seorang pekerja IKEA mencabut kaki meja supaya mudah dimasukkan kedalam kereta & mengelakkan kerosakan dalam perjalanan. Sejak itu, IKEA mengukuhkan konsep flat-pack untuk memudahkan pembeli membawa balik dan memasang sendiri perabot mereka.

Jadi, apakah Kesan IKEA (The IKEA Effect)?

Apabila seseorang membeli produk yang memerlukan usaha pemasangan sendiri, nilai sesebuah produk kepada individu tersebut menjadi lebih tinggi berbanding harga beli.

Sebagai contoh, apabila seorang kanak-kanak meluangkan masa seharian untuk memasang kapal terbang mainan, atau si bapa menghabiskan masa berjam-jam memasang kabinet TV, atau si mak memasak satu kek untuk keluarga, mereka akan menghargai hasil usaha itu.

Produk yang dihasilkan oleh diri sendiri mempunyai nilai terpendam yang menjadikannya lebih berharga dan bermakna.

Inilah teori kecondongan kognitif yang digunakan oleh syarikat-syarikat besar untuk menjadikan produk mereka sebahagian daripada hidup kita semua.

Produk seperti ini bukan sekadar produk yang boleh dibeli wang ringgit, ia adalah produk yang sudah terserap usaha pemilik, menjadikannya lebih bernilai.

Inilah kereta Tamiya saya. Mungkin tayarnya senget sedikit, tapi saya tahu betulkannya. Mungkin catnya tak sama seperti cat kereta lain. Tapi ini adalah kereta saya. Saya yang buat, dan saya bangga.

Buah fikiran seorang kanak-kanak.

Mobility and how it affects Social Mobility

I am disappointed to have read this news. You see, I’m a Kelantanese and have owed a great deal to public transportation when I was a kid. Amid news of nCov virus that blighted our stream in the past few weeks, it is easy for us to read this article and discard it for irrelevancy to our daily lives.

Well for a segment of people in Kelantan that needed public transportation the most, I assure you that this is worse than nCov.

Mobility is the ability for people to move about (example Pasir Mas to Kota Bharu), and Social Mobility is the ability for people to move up in the social strata (example from Poor to Middle-class).

These two terms while distinct from each other, are tightly intertwined.

Ability for people to be mobile, easily & cheaply move from one place to another is one of key components to help them be self-reliant. A dependable public transportation system allows people at the far corner of the state to wake up every morning, pay a few ringgit and go to earning a living in urban areas. At the end of day, take the bus ride and be back home.

Public transportation connects two places with vastly different wealth opportunity. It closes the opportunity gap, enabling poorer people access to opportunities to create wealth.

Lack of public transportation impacts poor people tremendously. Their ability to work in urban centers & earn a living is immediately cut off. In Kelantan, that means this segment of population can no longer earn RM20-30 per day. That may not sound much to you, but this meagre salary gets their kids fed.

That meagre salary also helps put their kids to school. For maybe one day, one of the kids maybe end up becoming a teacher, or an engineer, or a doctor. This lone successful kid will pull up their entire family to better living.

Just like how I owed myself to my mom and my selfless Aunt.

Jepun berjaya mendaratkan dua robot perantau pada Asteroid Ryugu

Gambar yang menakjubkan ini menunjukkan rakaman dari Minerva-II-1A yang melompat semasa ia mendarat di atas Asteroid Ryugu pada 21 September 2018. Dibina oleh Agensi Penerokaan Angkasa Jepun/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), robot perantauan ini merupakan salah satu dari dua yang mendarat di permukaan Ryugu. Ia sebahagian daripada program kapal angkasa Hayabusa2 dan merupakan kali pertama dua robot perantauan mendarat di atas sebuah asteroid. Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Dua robot kecil yang dibina untuk program angkasa Hayabusa2 oleh Jepun telah berjaya mendarat di atas permukaan sebuah asteroid bernama Ryugu – dan robot-robot ini juga telah memancar kembali beberapa gambar poskad yang sangat mengujakan kita semua.

Robot-robot ini merupakan sebahagian dari misi Agensi Penerokaan Angkasa Jepun (JAXA) untuk membawa balik sampel galian dan mineral dari asteroid tersebut. Jurutera dan saintis agensi tersebut telah mendaratkan robot-robot ini pada pagi Jumaat (21 September 2018), dan mengesahkan kejayaan cubaan pendaratan ini pada keesokkan harinya.

Continue reading “Jepun berjaya mendaratkan dua robot perantau pada Asteroid Ryugu”

Misteri plasma, satu fasa bentuk jirim yang ke-empat

Semasa gerhana matahari penuh yang dirakam di Perancis pada 1999, cahaya merah ini adalah plasma yang wujud di bahagian korona Matahari. Gambar adalah ihsan dari Luc Viatour/Wikimedia.

Semasa saya di sekolah rendah, cikgu memberitahu bahawa jirim (matter) wujud dalam tiga bentuk/keadaan, iaitu pepejal, cecair dan gas. Mungkin beliau terlupa, atau masih belum diketahui umum, cikgu saya tidak beritahu berkenaan plasma, sejenis gas berelektrik yang unik. Kita sangat jarang menjumpai plasma secara semulajadi, melainkan jika kita bertuah dan mampu untuk melihat aurora borealis (Northern lights), atau jika kita melihat matahari menggunakan satu penapis cahaya khas, atau jika kita melihat kilat yang diselubungi ribut petir seperti yang saya kerap lakukan semasa kecil. Namun begitu, walaupun plasma jarang dijumpai dalam kehidupan harian, ia membentuk lebih dari 99 peratus jirim yang wujud dalam cakerawala (jika kita tidak mengambilkira ‘jirim gelap’ (dark matter)).

Continue reading “Misteri plasma, satu fasa bentuk jirim yang ke-empat”