The Critical Path of Logistics

Imy Clarke - On behalf of Alchemy Recruitment, September 10, 2014

Logistics is an industry that revolves around time. The deadline for each logistics job is an essential part of the process, and it is up to logistics companies to take into account any setbacks, especially on account of external parties such as customs officers. The best way to do this is the Critical Path Method.

For logistics, the Critical Path itself is the longest required path through the various network of logistics operations from receipt of goods through to the goods arriving at their intended location. Developed in the 1950s by Morgan R. Walker of DuPont and James E. Kelley, Jr. of Remington Rand, the Critical Path method is essentially a logic diagram outlining the major processes and operations within a project.

The first step of the Critical Path Method is to list all activities required to complete the project. This could be done either with a simple tabular system or by using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). If you are looking to break the processes down into various levels to understand what is involved at each stage at granular level, then this is recommended to ensure that time estimates are as accurate as possible.

Next, determine the exact sequence of all activities – if there are variations in a process, for example two possible goods depots or routes to a location, then include them all. All of these different variations can then be linked together in a network diagram from start to finish.

Following this, all inter-process dependencies and the times of each process should be recorded. Should this change throughout the company’s existence then it is simple to just update the diagram. From this information the Critical Path can be found, as can the quickest and most logical process from start to finish of a project.

The Critical Path process is important to adhere to, however. If mistakes are made or the process changed without record, then time estimates can go completely out of the window, and clients won’t be happy if their goods aren’t delivered on time.

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