Optisite increases the efficiency and profitability of supply chain distribution networks

Workspace Manager

Workspace Manager showing USA distribution network parameters and map

Consider alternative distribution planning strategies and identify the best possible site locations in hours rather than days or weeks

Mapmechanics today announced the release of a new, totally redesigned version of the strategic distribution planning and site location modelling solution Optisite, developed to help you analyse and manage your supply chain more effectively.

The name Optisite will be familiar to many previous users of distribution modelling systems, but the new Optisite has been rewritten from the ground up, and is packed with advanced features that make it far faster and easier than ever before to set up and use, and more sophisticated in its capabilities.

Early adopters of the new Optisite include leading American online grocery retailers, food producers and third party logistics service providers.

Distribution planning and modelling software enables users to find the optimum number and location of warehouses or distribution points to serve their target market. With advanced solutions such as Optisite, users can choose either to retain some existing sites and find potential new sites to augment them, or to start with a blank sheet and find a brand new solution.

Optisite is designed to appeal both to consultants and analysts working in the logistics field, and to businesses with complex distribution requirements. Part of its appeal lies in the ease of setting up the software to perform the optimisation process. Users’ own data can be input quickly in standard spreadsheet format. Such data will typically include the demand points (for instance, customer locations), the existing or desired network infrastructure (for example, the ideal number of warehouses), and the volume of product being shipped over a given period. Other data can include the fixed and variable costs of warehousing and transport operations as well as product sources, typically production facilities or ports of entry.

Once the user’s basic data is input, Optisite offers a range of options. Users can vary the number and location of warehouses in a series of “what-if” modelling runs, comparing the cost implications of each outcome. They can specify the preferred maximum distance from warehouse to delivery point, and change these parameters to see the effect. They can vary demand levels, and stipulate that some warehouses will not be able to supply all product lines. They can insist that existing warehouse locations continue to be used, or allow them to be moved or even withdrawn from the calculation.

Optisite allows users to save a series of different scenarios separately, using the same core data for each of them but applying different assumptions. Scenarios can be “cloned” (copied) and modified, saving users from the need to set up all parameters every time, and outcomes can be displayed side by side on a split screen to allow instant comparison. Extensive online help guides users through every stage of the process.

Optisite features a brand new Workspace Manager that gives users fast and easy access to the different parameters and saved scenarios. Columns can be displayed or hidden, so users can customise the appearance for their specific requirements.

An online geocoder built into Optisite converts users’ addresses, postcodes or  zip codes seamlessly into geographical coordinates, and integral mapping via the HERE Location Platform provides an attractive and easily-understood backdrop to Optisite’s solutions.

Among its new features, Optisite can display a cost sensitivity “heat map” around each proposed warehouse location, displaying a grid around that point, colour-coding the incremental changes in cost as the facility is shifted away from the location.  This heat-map function combined with the Optisite ability to locate the theoretically best warehouse locations gives helpful indicators as to the localities in which to look for warehouse sites.

Not only can data be input quickly into Optisite straight from Excel; the system is also designed to offer fast, informative reporting. Graphical map-based displays suitable for use in presentations can be output directly from Optisite itself, obviating the need to export the data and configure it in an intermediate application first.

Optisite is available either under an annual software licence or on a monthly basis, making it an appealing choice both for ongoing analysis, consultancy work and for one-off projects.

Mapmechanics acquired Optisite and Truckstops, the well-known routing and scheduling optimisation software, from MicroAnalytics in 2010 and has invested significantly in the development of both products.

“Optisite has long been recognized as a cost-effective and powerful network planning tool for generating fast results”, says Mary Short, founder and chair of Mapmechanics. “The new version has these same characteristics combined with a modern, flexible interface, scenario management, reporting and integrated mapping. Its fast setup time, ease of use and flexible licensing makes it a serious contender amongst other established modelling packages.”