Revamp your Distribution Network

Revamping your distribution network can save your company time and money, help eliminate waste, and minimize employee frustrations and diverted resources. Often, the changes that will be the most beneficial turn out to be fairly simple and easy to implement, leaving logistics managers wondering why they waited so long to act. However, making effective changes to your network requires that you ask the right questions and thoroughly consider what kind of changes would most benefit your organization.  A logistics consultant can help you examine your current system and create recommendations that will truly improve your operations rather than just shuffling locations and responsibilities.

A few key issues to consider in assessing your distribution network include:

  • Are there items in your inventory that are primarily shipped to certain geographic regions?
  • If so, can you shift storage of inventory to bring those items closer to their ultimate destinations?
  • Is any of your inventory time-sensitive, either because it is perishable, or because you are regularly expected to supply it on short notice?
  • If yes, are there facilities available that would allow you to cut down the transport distance and time associated with moving those items?
  • Are your current transport routes optimal in terms of balancing cost and your company’s needs?
  • Are you fully utilizing available space, both in storage facilities and transport vehicles?
  • If not, are there ways you could combine or consolidate inventory in order to make more efficient use of space?
  • Have you made cost-effective decisions about operating your own facilities and transport versus utilizing outside companies for logistics?
  • business network

    Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbowen/85993657/

Of course, these questions are only the beginning, and thoroughly answering any one of them requires a series of more specific questions designed to drill down further and to take into account the specifics of your business, your customer base and your priorities.  An experienced logistics consultant can provide the guidance you need to thoroughly assess your current operations and create a profitable plan for shifting inventory, rerouting transportation, outsourcing parts of your operation (or bringing outsourced functions back in-house) and any other adjustments that will increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your distribution network.

Undertaking this assessment and the changes which follow may seem like a daunting task, but remember that every day you put off examining your operations could be costing your company time, money and even customers.  Making time to discover and implement changes today will free up time and resources in the future.

Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.

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