The success of a given consumer product is greatly attributed to the standard logistics and operational characteristics. Based on the given case study of consumer products manufacturer LeanCor and its supply chain, the purpose of this study to is to explore the characteristics of its standard logistics operations.

According to Bookbinder (2013), the exploitation of the entire supply chain enhances both cost and quality of service. Additionally, hybrid strategies application (lean and agile logistics strategies), well-organized, simple and standardized logistics operations, central management of logistics design, control and planning, proper control and IT flexibility are some of the characteristics that are requisite for the firm’s success (Waters & Rinsler, 2014).

Question 1

The standard logistics operational characteristics go beyond the traditional activities. Firstly, not only do they amalgamate internal logistics activities, but they also entail various actions along the entire supply chain (Bookbinder, 2013). Additionally, both internal and external coordination of the flow of goods is required. Such coordination is achieved with the involvement of both the immediate supply chain parties and further upstream and downstream parties. However, the sought relationship type may differ. The presence of resources and capabilities that enhance logistics operations are not in many cases sought by the firm (Waters & Rinsler, 2014). Additionally, close cooperation with the supply chain parties of the second tier can be achieved similarly due to the first tier arm’s length characteristics (Bookbinder, 2013). The local operational efficiency gains can be relinquished if it is believed that they can lead to the reduction of the overall effectiveness of the company and customer estrangement.

Secondly, there is a clear emphasis on integration between market aspects and logistics activities based on the expanded domain of control. Bookbinder (2013) discusses the need for a clinical fit between market and logistics activities. The author emphasizes lean and agile strategies in the supply chain as pivotal elements of logistics-based business models. Indeed, it is essential to design agile and lean supply chain parts, or involve certain products or markets into agile and lean strategy, but additional policy is required for these aims. It entails the ability to control the flow of varying goods with regard to volume and assortment, while pursuing lean process at the same time (Bookbinder, 2015). For instance, a company can be lean and agile towards the demands of a customer in terms of linking these regulated processes.

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Lastly, it is quite essential to integrate simple and traditional logistics activities with other functions of a company, such as IT, marketing and sales (Waters & Rinsler, 2014). A convenient IT system especially assists with the control of logistics resources. Regarding the provided case study, the identification of resources needed for the firm’s logistics processes showcases that the physical resources always come first (i.e. order-to-delivery processes), and efficient IT systems need to be put in place to support those processes (Waters & Rinsler, 2014). Nevertheless, control over these resources is essential, since it ensures timely completion of logistics-based operations.

Question 2

The consumer product company under discussion faces several customer challenges. First, multiple acquisitions made by the company have led to the overlap of the distribution networks. Secondly, there is an increase in a number of distribution centers up to 64 locations. In addition, the large number of warehouses within the system leads to more fixed and inventory costs (Waters & Rinsler, 2014). Finally, yet importantly, consolidating the inbound and outbound warehouse shipments have become a serious issue that requires control. Nonetheless, the specific area of logistics considered according to the case study is the optimization of the outbound distribution network. Thus, it becomes possible to reduce logistics costs, improve inventory availability, and optimize service maintenance (Waters & Rinsler, 2014).

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Question 3

The target areas LeanCor has to improve include its growing inventory and related costs, fleet expenditures caused by the increased number of warehouses, dissatisfactory availability of inventory, large number of distribution centers, and, finally, inefficient inventory replenishment methods. Improvements in these areas will helps establish an optimal number of warehouses thus facilitating the reduction of costs. The lean technique is a logistics-based business model in which the main goal is cost reduction through the identification and exclusion of waste. It encompasses such principles as waste minimization, flexibility, pull processing, maintenance of supplier relationship, production flow, visual control, and perfect first-time quality (Waters & Rinsler, 2014).

The company may use the lean technique as it will help with the reduction of costs incurred due to the growing number of warehouses. Agile technique constitutes the ability of supply chain to handle unpredictable changes, and a perpetual flow of new creative solutions that improve flexibility and speed (Bookbinder, 2015). The adoption of this technique with regard to the discussed company will help it handle unforeseeable events, such as an unexpected increase in fixed costs. However, applying both techniques through a hybrid strategy is an even better fit. This approach will benefit the company concerning the reduction of costs, and at the same time it will consolidate their inbound and outbound shipments to and from the warehouses (Bookbinder, 2015).

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Question 4

LeanCor enabled the customer products company to achieve its agenda of the decrease in a number of distribution centers by lowering the number of the warehouse from 64 to 51. Moreover, this goal did not bear any deterioration in the quality of customer service. The requirements for the warehouses to be within the favorable distance from the customers played a major role in the decision of the consultant to reduce the number of warehouses by 13. The risk of losing the clients who utilized these 13 warehouses was a major concern for the company.

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Customer order volumes, frequencies, and geographical locations of distribution points were critically analyzed in order to design a flawless outbound transportation policy (Bookbinder, 2015). In addition, 24-hour flexibility, inventory availability, and timely delivery, which were requested by various customers, put additional pressure on the decision of the company. However, an appropriate plan that satisfied these demands was achieved (Bookbinder, 2015). Interestingly, these consumer demands carry additional risk, as with the reduction of a number of warehouses, personnel from these eliminated warehouses will need to be transferred to other points or rendered unemployed (Bookbinder, 2015). All in all, according to the current vice president of the consumer products company from the case, the partnership with LeanCor really helped optimize their distribution networks.

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