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Designing the Distribution network for Michael‘s hardware. 

Designing the Distribution network for Michael‘s hardware.


Ellen Lin . Vice president of supply chain at micheal’s hardware  was looking at the financial result from the past quarter and thought  the company could significantly  improve its distribution  cost , especially given the recent expansion into Arizonal .Tranportation  cost had been very high and Ellen believed that moving away from LTL

shipping to Arizona would help lower transportation costs without significantly raising inventories. Michael’s had 32 stores each in Illinois and Arizona and sourced its products from eight suppliers located in the Midwest. The company began in Illinois and its stores in the state enjoyed strong sales. Each Illinois store sold on average 50,000 units a year of product from each supplier (for annual sales of 400,000 units per store). The

Arizona operation was started about five years ago and still had plenty of room to grow. Each Arizona store sold 10,000 units a year from each supplier (for annual sales of 80,000 units per store). Given large sales at its Illinois stores, Michael’s followed a direct ship model and shipped small truckloads (with a capacity of 10,000 units) from each supplier to each of its Illinois stores.Each small truck  cost $450 per delivery  from a supplier  to Illinois store  and could cary up to  10,000 units . In Arizona , however the country wanted to keep inventories low and used  LTL shipping  that required a minimum shipment of only 500 unit  per store  but cost $0.50 per unit . Holding costs for micheal’s were $1 per unit per year

   Ellen asked her staff to propose different distribution alternatives for both Illinois and Arizona .




Distribution Alternatives for Illinois

Ellen staffs propose two alternative distribution strategies for the store in Illinois.

  1. Use direct shipping with even larger trucks that had a capacity of 40,000 units. These trucks charged only $1,150 per delivery to an Illinois store. Using large trucks would lower transportation cost but increase inventories because of the larger batch sizes.
  2. Run milk runs from each supplier to multiple stores in Illinois to lower inventory cost even if the cost of transportation increased. Large trucks (capacity of 40,000 units) would charge $1,000 per shipment and a charge $400 per shipment and a charge of $50 per delivery.


Distribution Alternatives for Arizona

Ellen’s staff had three alternatives for the stores in Arizona;

1.      Use direct shipping with small trucks (capacity of 10,000 units) as was currently being done in illinois > Each smaill truck charged $2,050 for a  shipment of up to 10,000 unit  from a supplier to a store in Arizona . This was a significiantly lower transportation cost than was currently being chaged by  the LTL carrier . This alternative , however  would increase inventory costs in Arizona given the larger batch sizes.

2.      Run milk runs using small trucks (capacity of 10,000 units) from each supplier to multiple stores in Arizona. The small truck carrier charged  $2,000 per shipment and $50 per delivery. Thus, a milk run from a supplier to four stores would cost $2,200. Milk runs would incur higher transportation costs than direct shipping but would keep inventory  costs lower.

3.      Use a third – party cross –docking  facility in Arizona  that charged $0.10 per unit  for this cross –docking service . This would allow all supplier to ship product ( destined for all 32 Arizona store ) using a large truck to the cross- dock facility ,where it would be cross docked and sent  to stores in smaller trucks ( each smaller truck  would now  contain  product  from all eight suppliers). Large truck s ( capacity of 40,000 units) charged  $4,150from each supplier  to the cross – dock facility . Small trucks ( capacity of 10,000 units) charged $250 from the cross-dock facility to each retain store in Arizona.

Ellen wondered how best to structure the distribution network and whether the saving would be worth the effort. If she used milk runs in either region ,she also had to decide on how many store to include in each milk run .