Transportation and Warehousing Networks
To begin with, undertaking a comprehensive evaluation or assessment of the transportation and warehousing networks for any business setting is very crucial. This is mainly because the evaluation helps in determining the strengths and weaknesses of the networks thus making it easier to come up with strategies of dealing with any challenges and eventually this leads to improved productivity and efficiency within the systems. The supply chain network is very important since it determines the level of customer satisfaction and the ability of an organization to meet its short and long-term objectives (Poirier, 2003).
Transportation networks are affected by various constraints in different ways. Walmart is one of the world’s largest multinational retail organizations (Rugman, 2005). The corporation’s transportation network system is crucial especially because it operates a chain of hypermarkets and stores in different places. There are various constraints with the transportation network that may affect the overall supply chain operation. The first constraint is the physical constraints. The physical constraints mainly comprise of factors such as climate and topography. There are some geographical features that affect the type of transportation channel that would be the most effective in transportation of products. For instance, Walmart operates a chain of hypermarkets and stores and all these facilities are located in different areas with different features. This implies that it may be difficult to transport products on time through use of roads. For example, the corporation deals with grocery products which are perishable and therefore, they should get to the stores on time. Accessibility to some locations is difficult due to geographical factors. The climate may also easily affect such products especially when special equipments are not used. Time is also another constraint. Of this case, time basically refers to the duration taken to reach the products to customers at a minimized cost.
Another constraint is the legal aspect which entails the regulations for commercial motor vehicles. Regulations may make it difficult for the organization to fully implement its strategies. For example, the length requirements for trucks may make it difficult for the organization to transport products that may require a bigger space and length or hazardous products. Another example is the 70 hours 8-day rule for the drivers. Therefore, some of these regulations may hinder the organization from being flexible in its activities. Generally, all these constraints may have impact impacts on the customer satisfaction, delivery performance, flexibility, transportation costs, and the supply chain response time (Chandra, & Grabis, 2007).
Different modes of transportation are used based on reliability, costs, applicability among other factors. In order to ensure that the transportation network is performing as expected, the organization has been able to put in place the correct mode of transport. The corporation has a fleet of large trucks used for distribution and this is the main mode of transport. These trucks have the ability to carry heavy and large products. Improved packaging and loading makes it easier to maximize the quantity of products carried by each truck. In order to minimize the costs, the corporation uses various strategies such as use of large trailer sizes. The stops per trip are also minimized to minimize time wastage. The use of technology has enabled the corporation to design networks that cost effect.
In order to deal with these constraints, then the first strategy is by outsourcing. This may include outsourcing transportation and also working closely with manufacturers. The corporation may determine how its stores are located and the products and services providers that are nearby. This may help in identifying the appropriate services that should be outsourced. Overall, outsourcing is an effective way of dealing with physical constraints and various government regulations. For instance, this may make it easy to deal with perishable products because it may become easier to get products from the producers to the consumers within a short period. The corporation should also improve end-to-end visibility so as have real-time awareness of the shipments movements. The corporation should also consider the use of other transportation automobiles such as vans so as to improve efficiency within the supply chain.
Analysis of current warehousing infrastructure
Currently, Walmart’s warehousing infrastructure is characterized by a lot of application of technology. The corporation uses specialized equipment in handling and lifts and this enhances the multi-store delivery ability and maximizes overall warehouse services. Proper data storage and scheduling software also make it run the warehouse operations easily because inventory can be easily tracked. Generally, automating the warehouses has improved efficiency for the corporation. The corporation has also installed proper storage devices to maintain the quality of products. This implies that the current warehousing infrastructure meets the corporation’s storage needs.
Walmart’s customers are increasing from time to time and therefore, there is a need for the corporation to expand its operations so as to ensure the customers are satisfied. This includes expansion both in the local and global markets. The corporation should also expand in other industries such as the textile industry among others. One of the constraints that may affect the corporations during its expansion is government and state regulations on operations of facilities. Possible locations such as Canada and the U.K have different regulations. The second constraint is competition. There are many organizations that are involved in business activities that are similar to Walmart and this is a major constraint during expansion.
Considerations for special handling of hazardous materials
The corporation deals with a variety of products and this comprise of hazardous products which should be handled in the required manner. The considerations for special handling of hazardous materials include installation of special equipment for handling the materials, proper employee training, proper labeling of containers and stores, emergency producers, and equipment, and proper storage. These considerations may slowdown warehousing operations may slow down so as to have the specialized systems installed and to also undertake a special employee training. The hazardous materials require more time and caution when handling and this slows down the routine activities. The corporation may also be required to make some rescheduling on the warehousing activities. For example, currently, the corporation deals with non-hazardous materials which mean that a new schedule should be put to ensure that the loading is done at different times to minimize risks.
Chandra, C. & Grabis, J. (2007). Supply chain configuration : concepts, solutions and applications. New York: Springer.
Poirier, C. (2003). The supply chain manager’s problem-solver : maximizing the value of collaboration and technology. Boca Raton, Fla: St. Lucie Press.
Rugman, A. M. (2005). The regional multinationals: MNEs and’global’strategic management. Cambridge University Press.
Walmart Website. Retreived from: https://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/our-business