Distribution logistics, warehouse distribution
Distribution logistics play a valuable role in any warehouse distribution system. Every warehouse is unique, and thus has its own unique Distribution logistics. It can be something as simple as the number of floors or something as complex as the computer system used. But whatever causes them to be unique, Distribution logistics must be taken into account when designing any service which utilizes warehouse distribution.
It has been said that a retail business is only as good as its channel of distribution. It could be equally stated that Distribution logistics are the current that makes that channel flow. Many managers make the mistake of creating a ‘one size fits all’ approach to warehouse distribution. They believe that all warehouses should operate in essentially the same manner, and the way to achieve this uniformity is through uniform Distribution logistics. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are fundamental reasons for this.
Let us look at a simple example.
Say a firm has one warehouse which operates with two shifts for packers and shippers. The same firm also uses two other warehouses which have three shifts. Is it logical to simply put a third shift on the first warehouse so all the Distribution logistics can conform? Of course not. There may be very good reasons that the first warehouse only has two shifts; and merely creating uniform Distribution logistics for this warehouse may create more problems than it solves.
In addition, output rates are often seen as a sign of the success of the distribution logistic in any warehouse distribution scheme. However, again, even output rates only tell part of the story. You need to examine the full nature of each warehouse’s Distribution logistics to come to a determination of the logistical scheme which most suits that particular warehouse.
Distribution logistics in any warehouse distribution system should be viewed in much the same way individual workers are viewed. Some workers can work double shifts, but can only do this for a certain period of time before needing to take personal days. Others work better sticking to one shift, but rarely take personal or sick days. Which is the more valuable employee? Neither. Both perform their jobs in a manner the company can utilize, but both require different work patterns.
It is exactly the same way with the Distribution logistics in any warehouse distribution system. What works in one warehouse, may not work in another. What optimizes the distribution systems in one warehouse may cause problems in another. However, this is not an excuse to allow retrograde practices to continue. If a certain warehouse is truly underperforming, something needs to be done; and uniformity could be the answer. This is merely to say that Distribution logistics is not a ‘one size fits all’ affair, and should not uniformly be treated as such. Each warehouse should be studied, its practices examined, and then decisions can be made.
Obviously, successful practices from other warehouses should be tried. But it is important to first examine why the variation in practice has occurred in this particular warehouse. It may possess certain values that initially went unnoticed. For these reasons, we feel that Distribution logistics in a warehouse distribution system require some of the most care and attention of anything in the distribution chain. So think twice before suggesting uniformity. It may sound great at a board meeting, but its real world application could be truly disastrous. And that could have damaging effects not only on your business but your career as well.
And we would not want that, now would we?