Saturday, November 28, 2009

Logistics cost reduction

Logistics cost is generally around 4 - 10% of the total product cost in most manufacturing firms. Of this amount 60% to 80% is fuel cost. There are of course also the costs of the driver, cleaner and the vehicle fixed costs. The numbers make it clear that any reduction of logistics cost by further squeezing the Logistics service providers (LSPs) would clearly not be a feasible option. Yet this is the most common means of cost reduction resorted to.

Faced with such pressures, the reliability of LSPs becomes suspect. The LSPs may offer 'bargain' prices to garner initial business but such 'bargain' business often becomes low priority work. LSPs bundle loads of other customers with the load of the contracted customer. This forces them to make unnecessary detours and stops. For the customer, using such low cost resource invariably results in either inventory buildup or lost capacity.

All this is not rocket science. Yet most companies do not seem to see and realise this. One reason is of course the heavily fortified 'departments' that do not communicate with each other. The KRAs are generally designed to create local optimums. A logistics department with minimum cost may have a star status - that it create problems for other departments is a different issue.

Logistics cost is a direct out of pocket expense that is 'seen' by the entire firm. Inventory costs, obsolescence, cost of lost capacity and cost of expedited delivery are never a part of financial statements. They are thus ignored. There is a tremendous scope of improvement here. But the scope is not in reducing logistics cost. It is in reducing the total supply chain costs and in increasing sales.