Improving “last mile” delivery performance to retailers in hub and spoke distribution systems

Andrew Greasley, Anand Assi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the “last mile” delivery link between a hub and spoke distribution system and its customers. The proportion of retail, as opposed to non-retail (trade) customers using this type of distribution system has been growing in the UK. The paper shows the applicability of simulation to demonstrate changes in overall delivery policy to these customers.
Design/methodology/approach – A case-based research method was chosen with the aim to provide an exemplar of practice and test the proposition that simulation can be used as a tool to investigate changes in delivery policy.
Findings – The results indicate the potential improvement in delivery performance, specifically in meeting timed delivery performance, that could be made by having separate retail and non-retail delivery runs from the spoke terminal to the customer.
Research limitations/implications – The simulation study does not attempt to generate a vehicle routing schedule but demonstrates the effects of a change on delivery performance when comparing delivery policies.
Practical implications – Scheduling and spreadsheet software are widely used and provide useful assistance in the design of delivery runs and the allocation of staff to those delivery runs. This paper demonstrates to managers the usefulness of investigating the efficacy of current design rules and presents simulation as a suitable tool for this analysis.
Originality/value – A simulation model is used in a novel application to test a change in delivery policy in response to a changing delivery profile of increased retail deliveries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-805
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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