Why Details Matter in Logistics
History shows us that wars can be won and lost on logistical efficiencies. Getting the right supplies to the right people at the right time so they have what they need to do their job efficiently can be life-critical.
The Olympics and World Cup opening ceremonies are often quoted as the most intensively deadline-driven events in the world, where no logistical detail can afford to be skipped.
Having an audience in the billions can certainly focus the mind.
So in the competitive world of warehousing and distribution, where logistics are at the heart of everything, it’s no surprise that details matter.
And it’s often the small details that count most.
If you’re looking for a warehousing, distribution, transportation or 3PL partner, it will pay you to talk to companies where logistical details are the heart of everything, and where “quality” and “guarantee” actually mean something.
In this article we look at how details matter in logistics across all operational areas from planning through to people explaining how, in a business where lost seconds or minutes can cost thousands of pounds, detail is everything.
1. Operational planning
Planning is the very essence of logistics because it embraces the forward management of resources.
Details matter in logistical planning because the “success” of delivery of goods to a manufacturing or retail facility is defined first and foremost by timing. This means that vehicles have to be reserved, routes planned, road conditions checked and traffic conditions monitored.
Yet unexpected supply chain changes or new circumstances such as weather events have the potential to throw a spanner into any well-made logistical plan.
So a key detail in successful logistical operational planning is flexibility. Detailed scenario and contingency planning that helps prepare for the unexpected can be the difference between success and failure in situations such as:
- Larger than expected volume of goods arriving
- Earlier or later than planned arrival
- Short notice storage requirements
- Delays to onward shipping
2. Operational efficiency
Efficiency in logistical operations is just as important as planning.
The detailed behind the scenes work that goes into creating a highly efficient 3PL operation may not be immediately obvious to the end customer. The areas where the devil may well be in the detail in creating operational efficiencies that can give a logistics company – and hence its clients – competitive advantage are in:
- Personnel: well trained and enthusiastic staff who clearly take a pride in what they do
- Equipment: mix of well-maintained vehicles for different types of job
- Storage: versatile warehousing facilities that are properly equipped with racking for goods of all types
- Technology: modern warehouse management systems technology
- Communications: clear, transparent, responsive and open communications with customers
- Processes: quality control, management procedures, security, safety and financials
3. Quality checking – and double checking
Logistical success can be heavily influenced by rigorous checking procedures to make sure that what is expected has the best chance of actually happening.
For instance, it’s imperative to ensure that the quantity or detail of what appears on a bill of lading is reflected in the physical goods when they arrive at the warehouse, and that the condition of the goods is acceptable.
Your 3PL partner should carry out detailed checks of all your goods as they arrive into the warehouse, and let you know if anything is missing or if the goods is not as expected.
4. Clear communications
Complete, accurate and timely communication of information and reports provide customers with the peace of mind they crave – and have been repeatedly shown to figure highly in customer satisfaction ratings.
So it stands to reason that once goods are received, checked and accepted into the warehouse, and then logged on to the warehouse management system, customers should be updated on these facts in a time critical manner.
But the information communicated from a 3PL provider to its customer is not just a matter of peace of mind.
Such data reporting is frequently critical to the operation of the customer’s business supply and delivery chain, and to the efficient operation of the customer’s own business. So delivering the right information both proactively and when requested is key to a good supplier-customer relationship.
5. Investing in people
In addition to its warehouse facilities and vehicles, people are the greatest assets for any logistical business. They are often its greatest cost as well.
The knowledge, experience and skills of the workforce all represent major investment, and realising the benefit of this investment means ensuring every individual can operate to their full potential.
For logistics, warehousing and distribution businesses, detailed training is not just on operational matter. The development of personal skills such as time management, customer service and communication is a strategic decision, and can be key to competitive advantage.
Not only that; it can be instrumental in bring about small differences in little details that ultimately add up to those all-important saved seconds and minutes, or to that extra mile being gone to deliver a superior level of service to the customer.
6. Responsive and proactive customer service
Customer service isn’t last in this list because it’s the least important.
At Masters we believe that meeting and, preferably, exceeding customer expectations is the ultimate goal.
Yet if all of the other factors described above are in place and proactively managed – planning, efficiency, quality procedures, communications and people – the likelihood of excellent customer service being a natural consequence is high.
Of course, that’s not to say that great customer service just ‘happens’. At Masters we work hard to ensure that we respond quickly to all enquiries, and to all dispatch, delivery and distribution requests.
Doing so not only creates an aura of outstanding service quality, but is also instrumental in ensuring that customers stay loyal for the long term.
And that’s something we know a lot about at Masters.
To discuss your business case for outsourcing your warehousing operations, please contact Masters Logistical on [email protected] or call us on on 01353 648222.