Optimising a Logistics Network: The Basics

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It’s rare to find a logistics network that couldn’t be improved with a little optimisation. Whether, a network is in desperate need of optimisation in order to survive a changing market, o…

It’s rare to find a logistics network that couldn’t be improved with a little optimisation. Whether, a network is in desperate need of optimisation in order to survive a changing market, or whether it’s just a case of fine-tuning an already strong network in order to maximise efficiency, the basics of the optimisation procedure remain the same. Before anything else, you’ll need to figure out when to optimise.

When to Optimise?

As above, almost any logistics network could improve with a little optimisation. However, it may not always be worth the effort. There are always some times where optimisation may be more necessary than others.

Optimisation is a matter of your network fitting in with the surrounding climate, accounting for outlays, costs, and consumer demands. This means that the short answer to when to optimise is “whenever there’s a major change relating to your network or the industry”. This change could take the form of a swing in the market, a merger, or a shift in target markets or methods of operation. Essentially, whenever your logistics network or the surrounding climate undergoes a significant change, things won’t fit together the way they once did, and as a result, optimisation becomes advisable.

Know Your Network

Before embarking on any large-scale optimisation project, ensure that you have a good working knowledge of your network and what you will be working towards. Firstly, have definite goals in mind: what do you want from this optimisation? Whether you’re working in anticipation of ever-changing demand, aiming to reduce overheads or any other goal, you’ll need to have a solid strategy in place before you start.

You’ll also want to know what’s important to the operation of your network: what made it successful in the first place? In some cases, speedy delivery is paramount and as such it’s worth laying down large sums for what, in other cases, would be a negligible improvement. Similarly, in some situations, a low operating cost is king and should be pursued above all else, whereas some logistics networks may do better by putting the emphasis elsewhere. There is no one-size-fits-all method of optimisation.

Get It All Written Down

This may seem obvious, but it’s hardly rare for a network to have a complete, centralised database of all of the sites out of which they operate, as well as clients and any contractors involved in the process. Before any optimisation can begin, you need to have a solid overview of exactly what’s happening in your logistics network, in order to avoid unforeseen repercussions as a result of the changes. Having a properly organised database also lets you to see exactly where your money is going and coming from, allowing you to prioritise certain parts of your network for optimisation.

The aforementioned advice will help you be fully prepared to begin optimising your network. However, it’s a very quick and basic overview: the second part of this guide will go into slightly more detail, telling you a few other things to watch out for when going through the process of optimisation.

Article Tags: Logistics Network

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