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Independent Logistics Consultants vs. Systems Integrators (Pt. 2)

Posted by Jeffrey B. Graves, Principal on 02.03.14

PART 2. Key Decisions in Facility Design

We initiated this series by recognizing that optimal design of a distribution center involves the evaluation of a tremendous amount of information and many critical decisions. Short-cutting the design phase can often lead to a distribution center operating at less than optimal throughput and efficiency and a failure to capitalize on investment.

This week we examine some of the important questions that drive facility design decisions and how an independent logistics consultant like Sedlak Management Consultants, Inc., brings a depth and breadth of knowledge to guide the best-fit and most cost-efficient solutions for the client.

Key amongst these decisions is assessing which planning, equipment and management aspects of the project can be provided in-house and which should be outsourced. And equally important is whether these functions should be outsourced to an independent logistics consultant or a systems integrator. This decision can have a significant impact not only on the design of the distribution center’s material handling system, but on the efficiency of the DC throughout its entire lifespan.

If services are to be outsourced, it is desirable to have a single point of contact and responsibility to design and manage the entire project. Systems integrators in their effort to position themselves as single-source suppliers for their client company’s distribution needs are increasingly making critical decisions on initial conceptual design and equipment selection for their clients’ material handling systems. By contrast, DC executives have traditionally relied upon independent supply chain consultants to help navigate through these challenging logistics decisions.

The independent supply chain professional brings a broader range of experience with more varied applications than what can be provided by systems integrators, thereby offering a DC’s logistics executives a wider perspective on potential solutions.

Possessing the skilled personnel, extensive case history databases to draw upon, and in-depth experience with precision analytics and financial modeling tools, consultants are ideally equipped to fully analyze and develop conceptual designs for even the most complex supply chain and DC scenarios. Once a solution has been decided upon, independent consultants are then well positioned to assume single-point responsibility for contracting, installing and integrating the various sub-systems in the DC into one efficiently functioning material handling system spanning the entire distribution center. This gives the best guarantee that the DC will operate as designed and meet the throughput levels and expected system efficiencies when the system goes live.

The following questions should be asked before considering the use of a systems integrator: Will this approach deliver the best solution to the logistics challenges being faced? Will it actually provide an optimized design and will it streamline project management? Will it increase throughput and/or capacity in the new or upgraded distribution center? Will it leverage capital investment, minimize operating costs and provide a total lower cost solution?

We hope that you 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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