Category Archives: Supply chain mgmt

Building your business with international couriers

Building a business can be a trying time and often you need to expand your market without opening physical stores. Courier services allow for businesses to expand their reach by delivering products nationally and internationally. This contributes to growth as a product is more readily available.

Reaching a global audience

Emerging and established businesses’ have suffered in the recent economic downturn and there is an on-going attempt to boost sales and increase interest in products and services around the world. In order to reach a wider audience many companies and businesses have had to see if they could offer their products on a global scale or ship to other countries to increase their revenue and couriers have become a big part of making this happen.

Even the best business plan doesn’t always account for economic crises and physical expansion is often impossible when times are tough. Cheap courier companies have made it possible for businesses to reach a greater audience and you will find cheap couriers in the UK and the rest of the world easily available these days.

Advantages of courier services

There are so many advantages of using cheap courier companies to deliver your product and regardless of whether you need cheap couriers in the UK or across the globe you are sure to find a service that is speedy, efficient and reliable. Just some of the advantages of using a courier are:

  • Speedy delivery
  • Tracking system to ensure parcel is delivered
  • Deliver absolutely anywhere internationally
  • Easy payment services offered
  • Reliable delivery schedule
  • Efficient services
  • Signed for deliveries

All of these advantages and more can help your business grow and increase your client base dramatically. There is no limit on the size of goods or quantity that you courier, you will just be billed accordingly.

Product growth and expansion

There is huge scope for growth and expansion if you have a product that is internationally or regionally desirable. Often small businesses struggle to reach their potential client base due to geographical limitations, but courier services can change that completely. Internet marketing has assisted greatly in businesses reaching a larger target market, but without a viable shipping option they are unable to deliver.

Free shipping or optional pay-for shipping has become the norm online and most companies will offer consumers the option of door to door service or collection. Couriers assist companies in delivery and many large e commerce stores utilise their own service providers to reach their intended market.

Business will find cheap couriers in the UK and aboard their best option for sending products quickly and efficiently and the growth a business can experience as a result of these services is phenomenal. By accessing the global market or targeting a bigger client base your sales are guaranteed to increase and many businesses have capitalised on the availability of couriers to ensure they have grown from small, localised concerns to full blown commercial enterprises.


Kevin Maddox is a financial analyst and business correspondent for several online and print publications. He has assisted with the growth of many businesses and has capitalised on cheap couriers UK to help his clients expand their product reach exponentially. Bill is married to his business partner of 12 years and lives in the city overlooking the Thames.

Using Storage Equipment to Protect Your Shipment During Transit

It’s important to consider investing in the right storage equipment when transporting assets. Any accidental damage caused by poorly set up storage, which might involve boxes sliding around in the back of a lorry, or cages breaking under too much weight, can be serious in terms of costs and health and safety for drivers. In this way, it’s worth making sure that you consider the best approaches to using storage equipment, which can involve using customisable pallets and stillages for different jobs.

When transporting items between factories, warehouses, and other storage spaces to the back of vehicles, you can usually rely on collapsible pallets and stillages to transport items across short distances for loading. Wooden, plastic, or steel pallets and stillages are usually best, as are ones that can be opened out into boxes with hinged doors. You can also use roll containers for transporting goods to and from vehicles, before being added to fixed storage containers for transit.

It’s necessary to think about what kind of height and weight limit you require for your storage equipment. Stillage cages and pallets should be supported on all sides for long haul transit, and can be customised to different heights, and reinforced to make sure that items don’t slide around. Hanging front gates for distribution cages can also be used to make it easy to open and close containers at the start and the end of journeys. Some stillages also have options for being lifted by chains and cranes when they reach a destination.

In the case of steel stillages, which can be used to support more volatile materials, you can focus on using reinforced materials and load testing to ensure that they are as secure as possible. Extra reinforced stillages can be used to hold bottles and barrels, and can provide a completely stable option for gas and hazardous chemicals. In most cases, you can request customised features for these containers.

For taller distribution cages, it’s possible to fully enclose items using mesh frames and shelving, while also stacking them together in larger transit spaces like planes or ships. One of the most important things to remember when dealing with larger containers is how much weight can be generated over several stacked containers; never overload a space, and check the maximum load taken by the vehicles of a logistic company.

Some shipping solutions that involve long haul transportation will involve setting up a roll and racking solution for pallets, stillages, and other distribution cases. To this end, containers can be stacked together for initial transportation, before being assembled onto cantilevered and longspan racks for extra protection in the cargo hold of a ship. As with standard transit, you may have to add in specific reinforcements for different containers.

It’s also worth investing in accessories and tagging solutions like adjustable wheels and feet for containers, and asset labels that can be digitally tracked by GPS. The latter approach means that you can remotely check to see where your assets are when they’re in transit, and also means that you can record when they’re collected at the end of a journey.

Supplier selection criteria and models

Purchasing is among the most important activities in supply chain management, since it is the primary point of contact with most supply-chain partners. A major area in purchasing management is that of Supplier Selection Problem (sometimes called the Vendor Selection Problem). Research in this domain started in the early 1960s and over 175 studies have attempted to address this highly critical issue of procurement management. “Vendor selection criteria and methods” have reportedly been the highest area of interest in operations management research.

A wide variety of selection criteria have been used in different studies for the evaluation of suppliers which have varied due to the differences in requirements in different industries and also often had been purely firm specific. Typically the variety of supplier selection criteria that has been used has exceeded 50 criteria in over 65 research papers working on finding new criteria for evaluation of suppliers. These criteria have been enlisted in the matrix shown below.

Some of the most popular criteria in supplier selection which has been used in over 10 research papers and have also been widely cited are relative price, compliance with the delivery schedule, quality of the delivered goods to specifications, production capabilities of the supplier, geographic distance (of the warehouse), technical capability of the supplier, management capability of the supplier  and financial position of the supplier. All these supplier evaluation criteria have found massive application in the studies in this domain and are marked by subtle differences in terms of relative importance, as perceived by senior procurement practitioners.

Similarly another area of keen interest is the models which has been used to provide decision support to the supplier selection problem. Over 35 different mathematical models have been used for providing decision support to this extremely critical issue of procurement management. A study by Ho, Xu and Dey (2010) reveals that the Analytic Hierarchy Process, Mathematical Programming and Data Envelopment Analysis are the top 3 modeling paradigms used to provide decision support in supplier selection problems. Many other novel techniques like multi-attribute-deterministic models; mixed mathematical programming, outranking techniques; weighted sum of products; interpretive structural modeling; fuzzy set theory, neural networks; intelligent agent based techniques; TOPSIS, fuzzy multi-attribute frameworks; rule based reasoning models and multi-objective programming models have also been used. Typically the evolution of supplier selection models have been as described pictorially below, due to the evolution of the nature of selection criteria, from quantitative to a mix of quantitative and qualitative criteria.

As the trend highlights, there is a paradigm shift in the nature of the mathematical models used for supplier selection with a change in the requirements in the nature of business, mostly in the manufacturing industries and the maturity of the discipline. No wonder the area has attracted so much of attention to the consulting practitioners and theory developers in academia alike.

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Supply Chain Management Basics

In this article, we take you on a tour on the very basic focus of supply chain management. While there are many articles, which talk about the intricacies, the sole focus of this article is to cover all the various aspect an opening class for a grad program is likely to address.

There are few issues which are of prime importance while studying the subject. Before, one can call oneself conversant with the discipline, one needs to ask himself,  can he answer the questions in details regarding these aspects? This article is off course written more on lines of a strategic view point rather than an implementer ‘ s viewpoint.

  • Distribution Network Configuration: This is related to the number and location of suppliers, production facilities, distribution centers, warehouses and customers.
  • Distribution Strategy: This is related to the centralized versus decentralized issue, direct shipment, cross docking, pull or push strategies, and third party logistics.
  • Information: This is related to integration of  systems and processes through the supply chain to share valuable information, including demand signals, forecasts, inventory and transportation etc.
  • Inventory Management: How should one manage stored quantity and decide the location of inventory including raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods.
  • Cash-Flow: Arranging the payment terms and the methodologies for exchanging funds across entities within the supply chain.

Focus: Customer, cost saving, value adding, time from cash to cash, percentage of fill rate against customer specifications and total response times

The extension of the supply chain definition is to provide a context for measurement or to operationalize theoretical concepts. Existing definitions may not always explicitly provide a basis for measurement. The development of new measures and the development of new benchmarks, based on these measures; in developing the new measurement format, various aspects of the supply chain definition can be expected to affect the specific mix of measures used.

It is important to understand that the position of players in the chain (supplier, manufacturer, wholesaler, service supplier) affects their contribution and relevant measures, the level of integration and the strategic approach may affect the relevance of measures needs to be scrutinized. Creating benchmarks based on the new measurement systems may contribute to directing management effort in optimizing the supply chain. Thus this is of prime importance to a supply chain manager.

Also, the development of tools that can help support the implementation of the new measurement approach may be a crucial final step leading to the actual application of new measurement approaches. The tools cannot be limited to the measurement system itself; they also need to include strategic trade-off and planning frameworks in order to assure executive “buy-in” and commitment and initiate actual improvement processes in the supply chain.

Finally some finer aspects to ponder for supply chain managers while attempting to operationalize theoretical models.

  • Whether the models are qualitative or quantitative will affect the plans.
  • What they measure is of paramount importance: cost and non-cost; quality, cost, delivery, resource utilization, flexibility, visibility, trust and innovativeness
  • Collaboration efficiency and coordination efficiency and configuration and input, output and composite measures.
  • Their strategic, operational or tactical focus.
  • The process in the supply chain they relate to.

These are some of the basics that a supply chain manager is expected to plan about while going about his job. By the way, did you read our article on Supply Chain Value Management

Supply Chain Value Management

No doubt that the efficient management of the Supply Chain is crucial for any business, but the grasping question always comes is how does it create value for the firm? More still, how can that value be better managed so as to create competitive advantage for the firm?

While the Value Chain analysis as developed by Michael Porter in 1985 argues as being efficient for creating a sustainable platform for value generation for firms so that they may achieve competitive advantage in the industry, the proposition is not without major limitations, like all other popular frameworks in strategic management literature.

Theory of Economics is one of many possible ways to define and measure value. 

While operationalizing the definition of value, it is crucial to note whether the exchange that creates this economic value is between business entities i.e.  Business to Business (B2B) – or between a firm and a consumer – i.e., Business to Consumer (B2C).

Since Supply Chain is intrinsic to creation of economic value between business entities only, we focus on B2B value creation. There are 3 forms of value that is created in B2B type economic transactions that is widely accepted in strategic management literature focusing on Supply Chains.

  1. Technical value, which is intrinsic to the resource being provided and occurs in almost every economic exchanges.
  2. Organizational value, which is built upon the context of the exchange, and may derive from a range of factors such as ethical standards, prestige, reliability, and association.  This may help the organization get more than the normal economic value from the transactional point of view, in terms of helping the same to achieve some degree of competitive advantage.
  3. Personal value, which is derived from the personal experiences and relationships involved in the exchange of resources and the benefits provided to the entities associated with the firms bounded by the economic exchange.

Value in supply chain gets created through the following processes:

  1. Supply chain modeling must be done quantitatively and objectively. Understanding of the goals objectively is crucial for its success.
  2. The major challenge in an excellent supply chain network is not to build a model but to model the sensitivity of one variable against others optimally. A simple model can work fine in many cases. However, supply chain experts (OR & Analytics Professionals) should be involved immediately when doing multi-layered inventory strategies, industrial engineers and operations.
  3. The fundamental building blocks of work are the methods and standards for the tasks. Value creation occurs when the changing business dynamics can be effectively modeled regularly to drive maximum benefits. (remember the Theories of Constraints?)

So creating value from supply chain should be a major focus for all manufacturing companies.

This is crucial to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of not only the supply chain in particular, but for the overall firm productivity.

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Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management ca be defined as the integrative planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all Logistics Management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, third-party service providers, intermediaries, and even customers.At its core. Supply Chain Management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies.

Supply Chain StructureThe structure and activities of a typical Supply Chain for a large manufacturing firm is displayed above.

So what does integrative supply chain management?

Integrative supply chain management consists of all the activities involved in logistics, supplier identification and management, reverse logistics, cash to cash management, service level distribution, management to demand and responding to fluctuations, manufacturing, management of e-SCM issues, management of technology, auctions, negotiations, reverse auctions, customer relationship management (to an extent), ware house management, inventory management and so on.

However the most crucial activities in proper management of the supply chain focuses on activities involving logistics management, supplier / vendor selection, procurement strategizing (make vs buy decisions), vendor management, value co-creation with partners and collaborators, and daily operational aspects. Essentially, the crux of excellence in Supply Chain Management lies in managing the Supply Chain Network, which extends from the many tiered suppliers (vendors) to the end customer through distributors or retailers.


Research on supply chain management started as early as in the late 1950s, and research issues were centered around few key themes as described by the diagram below.


Thus Effective Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all the ploys and strategies, including the implementation of the same, for improving the sourcing and procurement of a firm, conversion, demand creation and fulfillment, and all Logistics Management activities. Thus, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, who can be suppliers for the firm, third-party service providers, intermediaries, and as mentioned earlier, collaborating customers on the network.

Those who feel as though they have a strong understanding of the many relationships involved with supply chain management may be able to own a franchise with their expertise. The act of owning and establishing a franchise or chain restaurant in one’s area is fairly complicated, but certainly not impossible. It is also an excellent way to gain an understanding of what goes into owning and managing a business. Those who are relatively new to some of the aforementioned concepts may also find that they would have an easier time managing a franchise that is already established versus managing a business from the ground up.

By the way, did you hear about Interlink Parcel Delivery? They are a part of the UK based Interlink Express. They offer an excellent courier service, based on effective management of the logistics value chain.


P.S. Article inspired by the presentation of my friend and colleague, Dr. Priyal Singh