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An effective just-in-time system requires a good communications system to report demand, speed in dispatch preparation and, above all, total precision to save on unnecessary processes related to goods at the retail outlet. Comercial Mexicana has achieved this with its national distribution centre.

The teachings of Comercial Mexicana

omercial Mexicana has experienced strong growth overthe last four years, which explains the remark made by the company’s logistics and distribution manager, Carlos Ramos, “One of the ideas behind the creation of this centre was to provide better support to supplying the distribution chain, which is considerably capillarised.” Besides fulfilling just-in-time demands, the centre has another mission – improving stock turnover and the supply chain–, inaddition to reducing the need for having storage capacity in the company’s retail outlets, which, in turn, allows them to grow more efficiently. As explained by the logistics and distribution manager, the adoption of modern strategies by

BestPractices 91

Mexico City and surroundings account for 60% of the company’s sales, and most of its suppliers have their factories close to this area,which explains the company’s decision to set up the warehouse in this region. Comercial Mexicana’s supply network is a little more complex than that. Items are also imported from Asia, Europe, and North and South America. In addition, two other distribution centres exist for perishable goods, and certain goods are also sourced from the local area in which the outlet is located. market. It was duringthose years that the group led by the company began to take shape: Controladora Comercial Mexicana. In the 1980s, it bought Sumesa and opened the first California restaurants. In the 1990s, it became associated with Costco – it holds 50% of the company’s capital – and ended up absorbing the KMart and Auchan stores that had been established in Mexico. Today, Controladora Comercial Mexicana has 59Comercial Mexicana outlets, 1 City Market, 35 Bodega outlets, 47 Mega outlets, 21 Sumesa outlets, and 29 Costco outlets, in addition to 63 California restaurants. The group’s shares are traded on the Mexico City and New York stock exchanges. “There has been significant change. Previously, suppliers delivered orders directly to outlets, creating a need to stockpile. It was also necessary to organisedelivery routes, therefore increasing costs,” explained Carlos Ramos. Company logistics have been transformed and now it is the centre that is responsible for handling orders and supplies at a company-wide level. This is doubly advantageous for suppliers, too. It is possible to deliver consolidated goods, and this can be planned for, as a delivery schedule has been established. Outlets receivethe items from different suppliers in one, consolidated delivery, resulting in greater efficiency. “Given that the distribution centre operates with a high degree of reliability, there is no need to recount packages at the outlet to ensure the order is complete. Plus, the goods arrive arranged into product families, which also improves efficiency,” Carlos Ramos commented. An organised network TheMexican retail chain’s stores are spread across the entire country, meaning that the most remote outlets are up to 5,000 km apart. The national centre receives in the order of 180 truckloads of goods per day, although in the company’s two, basically promotional, peak periods, this figure can rise to up to 250 trucks per day. Goods arrive on pallets and labelled at origin, just as they left thesupplier’s production line. At Comercial Mexicana’s centre, no additional handling, other than pallet deconsolidation, storage, order preparation and dispatch is required. Nor are prices marked on items as they are indicated on shelves in the outlet. Orders are placed by Internet and are for full pallets. Suppliers dispatch goods by means of a schedule system. Installation of management software...
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