Our iFlow Suite of Modelling Tools is the result of many years of accumulated experience, development and refinement. It is used to support large and complex projects, as well as smaller ones where just a small part of the overall suite is required. All areas of this integrated model access a common database, allowing us to draw upon previous experiences and undertake new studies with maximum efficiency. The different applications utilise the interactive nature of spreadsheet modelling, but are combined with a fundamental understanding of the processes of warehousing and distribution to ensure that an appropriate level of detail is acquired.
A Structured Approach
The study of supply chains and the development of logistics systems invariably involves significant amounts of numerical and qualitative information. As consultants, we need to be able to analyse data without drowning in it. We must have the tools to develop effective and robust solutions, substantiate our findings with hard facts and test the impact of different scenarios.
A structured approach helps us to make sense of this information and utilise the data in the most time and cost-effective manner. The Logistics Business has therefore developed iFlow, a suite of integrated modelling tools that assists our consultants in their work. iFlow is not a rigid algorithm but a truly interactive modelling tool that is adapted to support each project at the appropriate level of detail. Unlike a traditional spreadsheet, where it can become difficult to enter fresh data, the flexibility of iFlow enables our consultants to easily implement changes and quickly modify the data when required. It is also very flexible in integrating speadsheets for smaller datasets or databases where the volume of data gets much larger. The interactive nature of iFlow therefore makes scenario modelling as simple as possible.
The complete suite is made up of a number of modules and ensures that our analysis and advice are based on an in-depth and unique understanding of the supply chain. Listed below are a few of the modules included within the iFlow Suite:
This method of supply chain modelling allows us to examine the movement of materials through a warehouse or entire supply chain. The effect of changing parameters and the introduction of peaks can be simulated. Use of this model allows warehouse sizes to be calculated and we can model the proportion of different storage types, handling or order picking solutions required.
Following on from the warehouse iFlow model, we can use the iLabour tool to determine the labour content of the operations and look at the effects of changing productivities on the total labour requirement.
The iCost model brings together the results of iFlow and iLabour, giving an interactive view of the total cost of the supply chain and enables us to focus on the cost-effectiveness of a specific part of it. It is easily adapted to different businesses, opening up new possibilities for forecasting future requirements. This is achieved by incorporating two primary techniques into the software. The first is pareto manipulation, and the second is activity based costing. Pareto analysis helps define, for example, how product should be managed and what delivery channels are appropriate. Investigating paretos for a current business is relatively straightforward, but as a business grows and develops the paretos change shape. iCost manages these changes automatically, based on input of projected growth and/or decline in sales and product range. Activity based costing requires costs to be consolidated into activity categories rather than cost centres. Costs can then be allocated to products or services using the appropriate cost drivers. Examples are cost per case picked, and cost per mile per cubic metre delivered. iCost allows us build these costs and even deals with non-linear situations.
iMap can assist us in identifying the optimum location for a Distribution Centre, either within a specific country or across a continent. These models are based on a geographical interpretation of supply and delivery locations and customer delivery quantities.
iTransport, a more detailed geographical modelling module, allows us to optimise delivery routes and ensure that driver-hours regulations are met. It also ensures that the most appropriate vehicle is used for a delivery route.
Use of these models allows us to be certain that our solutions have been based on an understanding of the sensitivities of the result to variations in the input data, enabling us to give specialist advice and outline accurate logistics solutions based on an in-depth understanding of the supply chain.