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Independent Logistics Consultants vs. Systems Integrators (Pt. 1)

Posted by Jeffrey B. Graves, Principal on 01.27.14

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow.

Although systems integrators position themselves as single-source suppliers of distribution solutions, the increasingly complex nature of supply chains demands the broader scope of experience and unbiased methodologies of the independent logistics consultant.

This five-part series addresses key questions and essential factors that make the choice of partner clear:

  1. Why Independent Logistics Consultants are Critical to Success
  2. Key Decisions in Facility Planning
  3. Objectivity in System Design
  4. Focus on Level of Automation
  5. Change Management

PART 1: Why Independent Logistics Consultants are Critical to Success

Given the changing and increasingly complex dynamics of the distribution industry, the need for an independent logistics consultant with precision supply chain analytics and broad scope of design solutions has become more critical for supply chain executives than ever.

Leveraging broad supply chain experience from multiple industries – coupled with incisive analytics for precision system conceptual designs, and the capability to objectively examine and propose any design and system options – independent logistics consultants provide critical benefits that systems integrators cannot deliver, and continue to be the choice of supply chain executives for designing and installing material handling systems in distribution centers.

However, some logistics executives rely on systems integrators to not only install automated equipment solutions in their warehouse, but also to develop the conceptual design for the DC’s entire material handling system.

And too many of these DC projects put in place by systems integrators shortcut the critical design phase and install automated systems that are not the best fit or the most cost-efficient option for the corporation. At risk is supply chain executives’ need to maximize their throughput efficiency and successfully capitalize on their long-term return on investment.

Faced with the prospect of building a greenfield distribution site or upgrading their current distribution center, logistics executives are confronted with thousands of decision points to be worked out. Yet not all distribution center executives possess the extensive knowledge and analytical capabilities in-house to fully concept, plan, manage and bring to successful fruition a large-scale, highly automated DC. Their concept of what an ideal DC should look like, how it should function and what material handling systems should be in place is influenced by their distribution experience, the insight that they have gained from material handling equipment suppliers and by visiting the sites of other distribution centers of similar application.

Evaluating the tremendous volumes of information required and making the correct decisions throughout every step of the process can be a risky and daunting task for any logistics team, no matter how talented they may be.

For operations executives that desire to maximize their throughput efficiency and successfully capitalize on their long-term financial return on investment, the role of the independent logistics consultant has become more important than ever. Independent logistics consultants provide critical benefits to supply chain executives that systems integrators cannot deliver. They are ideally equipped to fully analyze and develop conceptual designs for even the most complex distribution center scenarios. While leveraging broad supply chain experience from multiple industries, independent logistics consultants possess the capability to objectively examine and propose any design and system options to their supply chain clients.

With over 55 years of experience in helping retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and third-party logistics providers with their distribution and facility design needs, Sedlak can expertly guide a client through the key questions and essential decisions behind the successful design of a distribution center to meet their unique needs.

We hope that you will find the insights contained in this series helpful to your business. If there is any way we can be of assistance with your distribution or facility design needs, please feel free to contact us by filling out the form below.

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