Improving Fulfillment & Distribution Center Design with Material Handling: Stretch the 'Neck' of Your Supply Chain

April 15, 2013
How should you improve your distribution centers so that they're as efficient and successful as possible?

I like to think of a fulfillment or distribution center (DC) as the “neck” of the supply chain. All the pieces of the supply chain that the end-customer sees, from ordering to shipment to delivery, are the “face” of the supply chain.

But the neck -- well, the neck can move the face any way it wants. Just like in your supply chains, the efficiency of a DC is often the crucial factor in determining how good (or bad) things will continue.

Tompkins latest report talks about just that. The New Rules of Material Handling in the DC analyzes this ever-evolving piece of the supply chain and how new demands affect material handling equipment (MHE) design and IT architecture.

Consider questions such as, “How will e-retailing and other direct-to-consumer strategies affect my inventory?” And, “How can I effectively think about sales and operations planning in this economic climate?”

To answer these types of questions, the report shares a new set of techniques that combine short-term, mid-term, and long-term scenario planning.

For a truly successful DC and MHE design, follow these four steps:

  1. Analyze and evaluate operational data
  2. Define requirements
  3. Identify and document alternatives
  4. Evaluate and recommend the best approach

Read the full paper to not only learn more about these steps, but also discover various material handling options, from physical design to IT systems.

Maybe it’s time to “stretch your neck” and look at how you can improve your DC design to meet the challenges facing business today.



About the Author

Jim Tompkins | CEO

Dr. James A. Tompkins is an international authority on leadership, logistics, material handling, outsourcing, and supply chain best practices. As the founder and CEO of Tompkins International, he provides leadership for Tompkins globally.

His 30-plus years as CEO of a consulting / integration firm and his focus on helping companies achieve profitable growth give him an insider’s view into what makes great companies even better. Listen to an interview of Jim Tompkins on the Business Leader Radio show.

As a high-level business advisor, his unique perspective prepares corporations and executives for the future.

To share his knowledge and provide up-to-date information on supply chain and business trends, he developed the GoGoGo! Blogand Global Supply Chain Podcast.

He has written or contributed to more than 30 books and eBooks, including Caught Between the Tiger and the Dragon, Bold Leadership, Logistics and Manufacturing Outsourcing, The Supply Chain Handbook, andNo Boundaries. Jim has been quoted in hundreds of business and industry magazines such as The Journal of Commerce, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, and FORTUNE, and he has spoken at more than 4,000 international engagements.

Jim has served as President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Materials Management Society, and the College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education, and Purdue has named him a Distinguished Engineering Alum. He has also received more than 50 awards for his service to his profession.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!