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Introduction and challenges

In a multi-level logistics network (factory and central inventories, zones or regional inventories, or even inventory in points of sale), positioning the right products at the right time and in the right quantity over time is essential to optimise theoretically conflicting objectives: cost, inventory and service.

The distribution planning process contributes primarily to achieving these objectives, being at the heart of an integrated supply chain process. It is based on different methods depending on the need: DRP (distribution requirement planning) to synchronise the supply chain when forecasts have an excellent level of quality and stability. On the contrary, DDMRP (demand-driven materials requirement planning) simplifies supply chain management whilst preventing the industrial upstream from the bullwhip effects, well known in B2B.

Improving these processes makes it possible to eliminate several internal causes of dysfunction, such as, lack of integration in the value chain and inappropriate use of supply parameters; while limiting the effects of external hazards taking into account fluctuations in demand and supplier reliability. This enables companies to improve service levels and contributes to optimization of inventory and costs.

Leveraging distribution planning to improve sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint is an emerging trend. Ensuring well-filled transportation means or limiting write-offs and destruction are good examples of this.

The structuring and the hierarchical/functional reporting of the organisation in charge of the distribution planning process can be a complex issue to address. Finally, successful inventory deployment relies on a good understanding of customer needs at the local level, on good stock-parameter dimensioning rules, and rules and tools to help spread needs across the network.

How we can help

We support our clients in:

  • Identifying the issues related to current dysfunctions and estimating the costs of changing organisations and tools (“business case”)
  • The redesign of processes in line with best practice, adapted to the specificities of the company (products, customers) and suiting its supply chain model
  • Clarification of the target organisation in terms of skills, size, roles, responsibilities and structure (central vs. local, by product line/plant or by market)
  • Integration of the “distribution planning” process into all other processes (demand planning, S&OP, MPS) in line with the company’s supply chain model and its supply chain management (synchronised or decoupled)
  • The dimensioning of optimal stock parameters (or DDMRP buffer parameters) on each decoupling point (security, anticipation and rotating stocks or buffers, etc.), creating multiple management methods to adapt to various product families, customer types and periods (dynamic management)
  • The development of rules to optimise transport constraints and costs
  • The choice and implementation of tools to calculate stock replenishment needs and deployment optimisation. This process is generally part of a larger project based on an APS or DDMRP software
  • The deployment of the improvement plan (training, model configuration, etc.) and change management (evolution of culture, behaviours, skills, communication, etc.)