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Logistics planning involves examining your products, equipment, facilities, and processes to create the best possible system. Moreover, you answer the all-important question: How do I manage our products from creation to distribution?
The four areas of logistics management in the supply chain are supply management, production, distribution, and reverse logistics/returns. Thorough logistics planning works through these four areas to discern seamless, cost-efficient procedures.
First, you look at sourcing and acquiring the materials needed for production. How is the product made? What materials are needed for assembly? Additional areas to consider are transportation and storage of these items. Do you have enough space to hold the materials until production is ready?
The next area of logistics planning manages the steps of combining distributed supplies into a product. You examine how to stage the materials properly to create the products.
The goal is to thoughtfully coordinate every detail of manufacturing to reduce wasted time. Does step 2 take twice as long as step 1? Perhaps you can add more support to step 2 to keep pace.
Distribution management is responsible for advancing goods from the warehouse to the stores. Therefore, logistics to consider in this area include damages and shipment delays.
First, look at the rate of damaged goods. There are things you can’t control, for instance, when goods are damaged en route to the customer. But often, damages occur before products arrive on retail shelves. So, consider the following:
Answering these questions will allow you to discern the cause of damage and make the necessary corrections.
Next, examine shipment delays in your historical data. Are you able to pinpoint a cause of frequent delays? Is one carrier missing the mark for you?
One way to make the best use of your carriers is via excellent communication at the dock. In fact, BOLD VAN’s distribution enablement system (DES) software brings to light any slowdowns in shipping time. DES lets you see what time and at which dock a carrier’s shipment will arrive, as well as when they are finished. You’ll know exactly how long the carrier remains at the dock — invaluable information for planning purposes. (Interested in learning more? Click here.)
Finally, you will examine your procedures surrounding products and supplies that come back to you. The first area of reverse logistics concerns reclaiming materials. For example, bringing unused supplies at a construction site back to the warehouse.
Equally important is the second aspect of reverse logistics: product returns.
Naturally, auditing your returns management procedures can help your bottom line.
If you need assistance in this realm, you many invest in a software solutions. (I examined six returns management solutions in a previous post.)
Next, you can look at your returns from a different perspective. Are there ways to repurpose a returned item? For instance, instead of trashing an object that broke in transit, can you refurbish and sell it at a discounted price? Some shoppers would be elated to pay less for a slightly damaged yet functioning product.
Undoubtedly, logistics planning is not a one-and-done concept. You must keep your eyes peeled for areas in your distribution channel to inprove.