Increasingly, modern distribution networks are not only about the delivery of goods to markets; this infrastructure is also being used to deliver a wide-range of services across many industries.
In food distribution, we see many operations provide butchering, fish cleaning, cutting & preliminary food preparation, and apportionment.
In industrial distribution, we see many operations provide repairs, refurbishment, kitting and light assembly.
Many parts distributors support repair and servicing of in-field equipment and vehicles from distribution centers.
Electronic and communications companies use their distribution centers to customize product, register and initialize new purchases.
While the complexity of distribution networks has increased with this proliferation of service delivery, integrating the activities into a single operating model for strategic planning or annual budgeting purposes is not overly difficult.
The key aspects to keep in mind when modeling services within a distribution network:
Services can be broken down into four time components: the set-up time at the dispatch location, the travel time to reach the point of service, time to provide the service, return time from the point of service to the dispatch location and the finish time to close out the service task before receiving the next dispatch.
Services are provided on-site or in the field. On-site services do not include travel between the dispatch location and the point of service. In-the-field services involve transportation. The mode of transportation can be a function of the crew and equipment required to provide the service; or, the transportation vehicle can be an integral part of the service delivery itself. The transportation system may require routing multiple service stops along a route or support single-stop trips. In either case, the transportation requirements by equipment type are modelled in the same was as a traditional fleet is sized, providing the appropriate stop time to deliver the service.
Workload and staffing requirements have can be modeled in the same method as distribution functions, recognizing that each specific service requires a specific definition for the units of work and the rate at which the work is performed.