Photo credit: http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com/

Photo credit: http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com/

Hey, you! You reading this. Yup, we’re talking to you. How are we able to do this? We would assume because you’re either holding a mobile device, tablet or seated in front of your computer. We wonder, have you ever thought about exactly how your chosen doorway to the internet got from its manufacturer to the reputable electronics dealer you picked it up from? Registered Sony shop or nondescript River Road outlet, the answer remains the same: outbound logistics.

Outbound logistics is a term that denotes all the processes related to the storage and eventual transportation of products to their end users. This can be from the side of the producer of the goods or, in case of outsourcing, the logistics firm contracted to make the final delivery. Outbound logistics therefore comprises a wide variety of concepts related to connecting products to their intended consumers.

Supply chain managers involved in outbound logistics must be familiar with and capable to execute, but none is so important as choosing a shipping or freighting carrier. For companies with internal logistics departments, this means building and maintaining an efficient and dependable delivery team that guarantees desired delivery results. Where delivery is outsourced, selection becomes crucial to the final goal of customer satisfaction. Factors to consider here include, of course, pricing of services, industry reputation, and product specific needs such as cold storage for perishables. Benefits of outsourcing in this case would include tapping into the wealth of experience and connections of the firm, such as in-depth knowledge of customs clearance procedures and shortcuts.

The next consideration involves the actual transportation of goods. Supply chain managers, whether internal to the producer or contracted externally must ensure efficiency of schedules, coordinated to coincide with expected time of delivery, if not slightly earlier. For multi-modal transportation, it is imperative that delivery timings be adhered to strictly: a truckload of products arriving late to an airstrip or dock may very well miss the departure of the vessel needed to get cargo to their destination, since most long distance freighting ships or planes serve a large number of customers. Allowances must of course be made for time taken to clear customs and other necessary inspections before cargo is cleared for forwarding.

Management of distribution center where needed. Supply chain managers must also work to promote visibility of goods from end to end. This means shipments must be traceable at every step of the delivery process, under the surveillance and guidance of logistics personnel.

This also opens up the option of reporting, whereby either the producers or final consumers can be kept in the loop regarding where the goods are and when delivery can be expected. This not only instills confidence in the company or department from the manufacturer, it also goes a long way towards customer satisfaction and return business. s is also a pertinent concern for supply chain managers involved in outbound logistics. This is generally the ‘hive’ where delivery routes and shipments are planned and assigned. Logistics managers in charge of such centers must ensure load optimization to reduce waste of space in delivery vehicles. Efficiency in such centers can also be maintained by performing a network analysis determining the state of routes and communications systems currently in place, and rectifying or streamlining where needed. Supply chain managers must also work to promote visibility of goods from end to end. This means shipments must be traceable at every step of the delivery process, under the surveillance and guidance of logistics personnel.

Photo credit: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/

Photo credit: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/

This also opens up the option of reporting, whereby either the producers or final consumers can be kept in the loop regarding where the goods are and when delivery can be expected. This not only instills confidence in the company or department from the manufacturer, it also goes a long way towards customer satisfaction and return business.

Although specifics may vary according to the needs of the products being transported, these principles remain universally applicable. The one thing your car, flour and even the very shirt on your back have in common is that they got to you from their different manufacturers through outbound logistics. Spare a thought for the hardworking supply chain managers keeping you comfortable this week.

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