Reducing lead-times and lead-time variance in cooperative distribution networks
The academic and professional attention to the large synergies hidden in horizontal collaborations is increasing. This study attempts to address the impact of collaborative transport on transportation lead-time and lead-time variability through empirically investigating a group of SMEs involved in a collaborative distribution network. Data was collected for seven pre-cooperation and eight cooperative orders over a period of 14 months. The results of Mann-Whitney U-test show a significant average reduction of 30.8% in the duration of lead times. Lead-time variability was also found to be reduced as the result of changes in the coefficient of variances and the Bartlett’s test for homogeneity of variances. Horizontal collaboration in transport could eventually lead to reduced lead times and lower variability of lead time which results in reduced supply chain costs. This can be achieved by means of direct routing and avoiding multi-transshipment routes which reduces the uncertainty and variability by diminishing the number of stages in the transport chain. Thus, effective lead-time management is considered a source of competitive advantage as it can reduce supply chain costs by lowering inventory levels, but is also capable of improving performance and customer service by offering improved product quality service levels.