Supply chain consultants can help you think through your business plan and real estate at a 30,000 ft view. They won’t necessarily tell you what warehouse to lease, but how you be thinking about distributing your product to your customers in the first place. Supply chain consultants are the consultants you call when you need help adopting an e-commerce model and an Omnichannel distribution network. Some supply chain consultants will delve into third-party logistics, automation, and robotics.
Specific areas of expertise for supply chain consultants are network optimization, labor workforce, and economic incentives. Each of these subcategories can be internal capabilities of the supply chain consultant or external partners that integrate with the supply chain consultants offering.
Four great examples of how Supply Chain Consultants can help you are illustrated in an interview I had with Jim Tompkins of Tompkins International:
How long does it take to gathering everything you need and come up with different options and solutions for the client?
“I will explain the four projects I have with this one client.
The first project has two DCs today; one in the East and one in the Midwest. Those two DCs today are not adequate to get him through holiday 2020, so he needs to have significant work done in the next month for putting in place action plans for people, processes, and technology. We have to look at how these two facilities are operating today and how we can double the number of skews and give him 50% more throughput. We have to have that in place by August, so that’s job number one: enhance the two that he has.
The second project we have is a network job. They have done a llama soft model. The problem with a lot of lama soft modeling is it’s all about the data. If you have inaccurate transportation data, inaccurate cost of running the DC, inaccurate rents or facility cost, or you don’t properly nail incentives, you can absolutely make the wrong answer. What he did was hire a firm. They did a llama soft model and the results of that llama soft model basically said “west”. I asked him what west meant and he said, “What do you think of?” I said, “I think of Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake, Phoenix, and Idaho. For what you’re doing with apparel and your need to get the customer going forward in the same day, Idaho is out. So the second project we have to do is go out and shop these four municipalities and incentives. We have to find who is going to give us the best deal for what they’re doing. From a cost point of view, we’ve done many studies and the four are about equal. It depends how they want to rate rent versus labor versus productivity and so forth.
The third project has to do with the design of their West Coast facility. This particular client is very interested in our robots and how they could work for him. They are doing high volume throughput and they’ve got a relatively small number of skews, so it’s a really good fit for the robots. They want us to design for them the best traditional, conveyor, pick module, put-wall, sortation system, and then they want us to pick the best robotic application. I never wanted to get into the material and equipment business, but no one here had what I needed. Our equipment, literally, can be picked up and moved into a building in two days’ time with installation. We don’t need permitting. We just go in and literally roll stuff in there. Everything’s on wheels. We roll it in, plug it into a standard outlet, bring the robots in, set them on the tables, and everything’s ready to go. The IT is much more complex than that, but the IT is done before we go in the building, so it really provides that capability and it’s the first portable automation that exists in the world.
The fourth project he has, and this is his terminology, is he wants to do what he calls “in-market fulfillment centers”. What he wanted us to do originally was to design technology for him, but now he gets it’s already what we’re already doing with Tompkins Fulfillment, and he just needs to become a client of Tompkins Fulfillment. We’re designing a pilot for him out of the Atlanta Tompkins Fulfillment Service Facility so that we can show him the benefits. Does he get a sales increase when he goes to same day delivery? Does he get greater follow on orders with same day delivery? What is the benefit for him of same day delivery overall? What’s the cost? What does it do to his margins? We put him in the Atlanta facility and we’re collecting data now to see what’s actually going on while we design his IT.”