Transport collaboration to impact warehouse design

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The design of distribution centres could change to accommodate the new requirements resulting from the growth of transport collaboration, according to a new study by developer ProLogis.

The study, entitled Transport collaboration in Europe, highlights a number of examples of successful transport collaboration including:

* Bridgestone and Continental in Orleans, France

* Goodyear Dunlop and Continental in Birmingham, UK

* Samsung and Sony in the Netherlands

* Kimberly Clark and Unilever in the Netherlands

* Reckitt Benckiser, Johnson and Johnson and Colgate- Palmolive in Germany

* Reckitt Benckiser, Kimberly Clark and Colgate- Palmolive in France

Author Lisa Graham, who is vice president of European Research at ProLogis points out that transport collaboration, when successful, changes the role that RDCs play within supply chains and distribution networks.

“As a result, the design of these RDCs must also sometimes be changed to accommodate the changes in how they are used. The design of RDCs must consider whether or not the user intends on sharing the space with a competitor.

“If the user plans to share space with a competitor, given the European Commission’s concerns over potential noncompetitive collaborative practices, separate warehouses can provide a safer design solution. Alternatively, in the case of non-competing companies or a 3PL, there is less concern about goods being stored and handled under one roof.

The report  says 3PLs can sometimes use a single facility to accommodate the needs of two or more companies for seasonal flexibility.

“For example, one end-user could be a manufacturer that produces warm-weather garden furniture requiring more storage space during the summer, whereas a second end-user could be a retailer that specializes in selling Christmas-themed merchandise requiring storage space in the months leading up to Christmas.

“Transport collaboration emphasises product grouping and mixing for outbound and, in some cases, inbound deliveries. In these situations, an RDC serves as the common staging area for the collaborators. To handle the greater number of inbound and outbound shipments, the collaborative RDCs must be bigger with more dock doors than those used by individual companies.

The study highlights a number of design features that are desirable:

* Cross docking for efficient inbound and outbound deliveries

* Internal warehouse layout and design to accommodate freight from different manufacturers, suppliers and retailers

* Potentially new building or park designs to create more efficient ways to load and unload between different warehouses located in the same park

* Integrated tracking systems that can accommodate a higher volume of deliveries and goods

* The emergence of industry-specific, multi-user warehouses and campuses.

The report points out that for many companies there are substantial barriers to collaboration that must be overcome, including trust, confidentiality, and security requirements.

“But impelled by the outsized potential benefits, many third-party organisations, shippers, haulers, and logistics specialists are working to address these barriers to make transport collaboration available to a broader range of companies.”


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