Apologies that it has been a little quiet recently here on the Surely More Interesting. I have been doing a lot of training for my 40tude project. We have also been crunching the numbers on the charity's 3 year plan and we should have an exciting close to 2012. Anyway a little blog is in order.
I was recently involved in the fringes of a conversation between a programme director and a logistics team.....sometimes I have to bite my tongue in order to be a well behaved logistics consultant; sometimes the gold plated solution doesn’t meet the business case and despite being within the grasp of best practice it doesn’t make sense to go for it.
Anyway back to the conversation; the phrase that grabbed me was “I want to take the human element out of the logistics component” what he actually meant was that he wanted to reduce the reliance on logistics personnel to process the resupply orders at each depot.
This got me to thinking how many logisticians does it take to create a humanless system. A number of times I have work on supply IT projects I have been asked to define algorithms for resupply. The simplest of these is
Optimum Stock - Current Stock = Resupply Order
If you want to take in the delivery time if you are operating over a greater area you add in an adjustment factor for the days it takes to distribute as a
Optimum Stock - Current Stock + Adjustment Factor = Resupply Order.
That adjustment factor can be calculated dynamically if you have the IT assets or as a % of optimum stock level. I could get really dull about algorithms so I will stop there.
So it would appear that you can create an algorithm to take the human element out of re-ordering...or can you? It would have been a dull blog to just trot out some E= MC2 type equation and leave it there....so ..... I won’t.
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You see Current Stock can be defined by counting, resupply orders are the outcome and the adjustment factor is a calculation against either consumption (I have some great algorithms for that) or as a percentage of optimum stock. So here is the clincher how you define optimum stock?
Yes optimum stock needs a huge amount of human input to make the rest of the system work. It is possible to use previous consumption data to give you a dynamic consumption rate and then perhaps you can put together an algorithm to define how much of a certain product you will need over a reorder period....but who defines the re-order period..... you can perhaps create an algorithm......
Yes you can always “perhaps create an algorithm” but I always encourage teams to look at it this way; every algorithm that relies on the input of another algorithm puts it one more step away from judgement, discernment and decision. During the Olympic period it is perhaps appropriate to give a sporting example, I chose the Archer. At the point of release the archer only needs to be a minute portion of a degree off to miss the bullseye.
So how many logisticians does it take to make a humanless system.....
None......trick question really.
But you don’t want a humanless system in fact you want to include a multidisciplinary team to draw together the best of your knowledge to capture the essence of what you do and make the best judgements, discernments and decisions...then let the algorithms do their business. We at The Logistics Project love to facilitate these meetings to help you get the best out of your algorithms.