Operations Management and the Supply Chain

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Purpose of the Assessment

The purpose of this assignment is to test your ability to apply operations management thinking to a real world problem, in order to identify practical and implementable steps that balance the differing needs of multiple stakeholders.

Assessment Task

Vital Cargo is a long-established courier company with its headquarters in Coventry. The principal activities of the company concern the operation of a small package delivery service.

The company’s operations are presently concentrated in the West Midlands.

The company has been approached by Courier Exchange with a proposal to participate in an Eco-friendly Logistic Network for the wider UK courier market. Vital Cargo’s Coventry base is unlikely to be able to accommodate all the additional traffic; a new logistics solution is required.

You are to prepare a report outlining the potential impact of Courier Exchange’s proposal on the distribution footprint of the company.

Deliverables and Assessment Breakdown

You have been provided with a set of sales data identifying the geographical distribution of Courier Exchange’s forecast sales of. You are to analyse the data, identifying the concentration of likely customers, and propose a distribution network to serve them.

(a) Develop a Problem Statement and state your Solution Design Principles    (10%)

(b) Use a Territory Design tool (Open Door Logistics is recommended) to identify the suitable depot locations to serve the anticipated market.

Consider a centralised solution (2-3 depots) and a decentralised solution (4-6 depots). What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?                                   (40%)

(c) Explore the practical options for siting warehouses/depots in the locations identified by the modelling exercise. Present your final site selection, explaining the reasons for any changes from your initial result.                                                   (20%)

(d) In your view, what strategies should Vital Cargo follow to ensure that the supply chain solution is improving their efficiency, gain new clients and forge long-lasting business relationships?                              (30%)

The maximum permitted word count for this assignment is 2500 +/- 10%. Tables, figures and references are not included in the word count.

Assessment Submission

To submit your work, please go to the ‘Submit your work’ area of the Module NILE site. It is important that you submit your work to the correct module NILE site, and that your work is submitted on time.

Assessment Guidance

Familiarise yourself with the data provided. Identify the key information within it. The data manipulation involved is not hard – though you will need to learn new digital skills.

The key is to find a simple but effective way of representing the analysis. Whilst the exercise can be undertaken using a simple spreadsheet, you will find the capabilities of specialist software to be much more powerful, especially in terms of mapping.

We will explore one such package – Open Door Logistics – in our seminars.

Any literature search should be up to date. Unless a reference is absolutely seminal, I would not expect material over eight years old to be included.

Academic Practice

This is an individual assignment, in that the final submission will be made individually. However, group discussion of the solutions to the various sub-questions is encouraged. In practice, this means that you will be able to work together to build the models required.

The University of Northampton policy will apply in all cases of copying, plagiarism or any other methods by which students have obtained (or attempted to obtain) an unfair advantage. Support and guidance on assessments and academic integrity can be found from the following resources

SkillsHub: http://skillshub.northampton.ac.uk

CfAP: http://tinyurl.com/UoNCfAP

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes being addressed through this assignment are:


Knowledge and Understanding

a)       Analyse the purpose and value of operations management in the logistics context

b)       Compare and contrast the key operations management concepts.

Subject-specific Skills

c)       Apply and reflect critically on the Operations Management Models as a basis for effective resource management.

d)       Distinguish between and apply key concepts and techniques for controlling and planning operations including the principles of Lean Management.

e)       Interpret and synthesis the various definitions of quality in an operational context and justify the effectiveness of measuring operational performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

Key Skills

f)       Use IT to apply statistical techniques to solve operational problems.

g)       Select an appropriate format for effectively presenting written work.

h)       Identifies key elements of operations management problems.

i)        Develops autonomy with individual study tasks.


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