Milk Run Logistics

Milk Run Logistics

When I first heard of milk run routes in logistics, my mind immediately went to the late 1800s, early 1900s, to a milkman

dropping off a cart of glass milk bottles and collecting the empty ones. While similar, it is also different as milk run logistics

can be defined as the delivery of goods that is transported from various suppliers to one final destination. Opposed to each

individual supplier shipping their products separately, the transportation of the goods is planned specific with supply routes

that allow for a vehicle to pick up loads and deliver them to a distribution center, or facility. In milk run logistics, the driver will

pick up different loads from several different suppliers and then delivering them. The process involves the transportation network

that transports the stock carried out from the same vehicle which allows for numerous stops to load and unload the products at

the different facilities. The milk run method is built on the idea that only material that has been consumed should be replaced.

This strategy is used at lots of different warehouse or production centers where items are replaced based on the just-in time

method that replaces items at the right time, every time. The primary objective of milk run logistics is to reduce travel time as

well as lower costs in acquiring the materials necessary to their production centers. This method requires routes as well as

delivery dates to be planned ahead of time without any mistakes. Most of the milk run transportations can be internal

whereas vehicles travel to various zones within one facility in order to supply the different workstations.  Milk run routes

can also be external, whereas the vehicle makes stops at warehouses or suppliers of the company to provide materials

to the productions team. Automotive industries benefit significantly from milk run strategies due to the lower cost techniques

from stock management by utilizing the just-in-time method. Milk run logistics allows for the manufacturer to hot shot the vehicle

to make “milk runs” by stopping off at different areas to pick up materials from each supplier which equates to a full truckload.

In better terms, the external milk run distribution gets loaded from various suppliers until the truck is full and then brought back

to the distribution center. Milk run logistics is considered a stock distribution method that is implemented through mass production lines.

Pros of Milk Run Logistics

  • Lower transportation cost
  • Quick & efficient operations
  • More sustainable logistics
  • Avoids bottlenecks

Cons of Milk Run Logistics

  • Any mistake can disrupt the supply of materials or production
  • All supply chains must be completely in sync
  • Potential for stock management errors due to transportation routes
  • Very complex

Just as just-in-time logistics is based on the strategy of ordering shipments, just in time, milk runs require diligent planning to factor in

stock loading as well as unloading and different intermediate stops. The route engineer  is responsible for determining the loading and

unloading points by providing the most effective route while considering the frequency of the trips as well as number of vehicles that are

assigned to get this completed. To provide a clear understanding of the process for how milk run logistics work in greater detail, everything

must run as planned according to schedule. The driver will be responsible for completing the internal runs to their supplier’s warehouse,

completing the external run as well as picking up partial loads of raw materials as well as products that need to be added to the production

lines and then moved to manufacturing areas.  While it is commonly believed that milk run logistics is used to transport and supply raw materials

, it can be used to transport goods in a warehouse or production plant. In order to pick up shipments from different carriers the logistics planner

 works with multiple suppliers to adhere to this strategy. Since one of the biggest concerns in milk run logistics is the complexity and the minimal

room for errors, is by implementing a software that automates with various task management as the logistics software and technology help to make

the supply route more efficient.  Ultimately, the milk run is an efficient method to consistently be restocking products to their various logistics and

production areas. Milk run logistics grants companies the opportunity to reduce travel along transportation routes by advancing more sustainable logistics.

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