In times of globalisation, outsourcing and the individualisation of customer behaviour, distribution centres are an important factor of success in logistics networks. They influence the costs and the performance of logistics networks to a significant extent. Distribution centres are nodes within logistics networks, which receive, store and ship goods. Typical examples are warehouses and cross-docks.
Distribution centers are necessary if a synchronization of customer demand and production is not possible. Additionally, the establishment of distribution centers within a logistic network is reasonable in terms of batch production, utilisation of transport capacities and adherence to delivery dates. Logistic services only cause costs and do not increase the value of the goods. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis and a continuous improvement of distribution centres regarding the material flow planning and control as well as the organisational and technical design of the individual processes is essential.
In order to analyse distribution centres, we use various modelling approaches, for example queueing theory, simulation and mathematical optimization. The choice of an appropriate modelling approach depends on the specific issue. Furthermore, we do research on organizational and planning topics as well as on innovative technical developments and warehouse technologies. Benchmarking is an important tool to analyse distribution centers. We developed the Distribution Center Reference Model (DCRM), a standardized procedure that enables an objective analysis, comparison and evaluation of distribution centers.