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by Murray Phillips, 22 June 2021
After our discussion about the hub and spoke model, let’s take a look at a very
different one: the point to point distribution model.
It’s fair to say they’re polar opposites in terms of how they function. That’s because
they serve different kinds of deliveries.
So, what is the point to point model, who should use it, and how can you make the
most of it?
First, let’s run through a brief explainer: how does the model work?
A point to point distribution model can work in a couple of different ways. The most
obvious is to directly connect two different locations without any service
interruptions (like pick up or drop off). Your driver’s route is uninterrupted from point
A to point B.
The second is where the pickup and delivery are serviced by the same driver but aren’t
necessarily direct. The driver might complete pickups in the morning and deliveries
in the afternoon. They could even do a pickup in the afternoon and complete the
delivery the following day. The defining feature is that the freight is only handled by
a single driver and it doesn’t return to a central hub or depot.
So a vehicle can be loaded in Moorebank, Sydney, then travel to Marrickville to be
unloaded and delivered.
You can see how this differs strongly from the hub and spoke model, where each
location is connected only to a central hub, which then combines deliveries together
into a larger vehicle eventually headed to the same location.
There are two main advantages of the point to point distribution model over the hub
and spoke model: faster travel times and lowered impact of delays. Let’s look
Faster travel times. Using the point to point model means making a continuous
journey to your drop off point. Your drivers won’t be stopping, changing directions,
or accommodating other deliveries at the same time.
Obviously, the time from loading to final delivery of goods is almost always going to
be faster when there’s no stops in the middle.
Delays have a lower impact. With this distribution model, delays only affect a
single delivery. As opposed to a hub and spoke model where a delay at the central
hub can have an impact on large numbers of deliveries at once, which are all
waiting to leave in the same vehicle.
Because each vehicle is operating independently in a point to point distribution
model, they’re better able to resolve any issues quickly. Therefore, the model is less
prone to delays between locations.
There are two main drawbacks to the point to point distribution model: lower
efficiency and higher costs.
It may be fast but it’s not as efficient. And if you run a transport business, then
you know how fundamental efficiency is to a financially successful business. The
point to point distribution model requires more of your drivers to be on the road at
If they’re all travelling in similar directions, you could consider sharing the loads in a
Less Than Truckload (LTL) set-up, using a hub and spoke model.
It’s more expensive. When you have more drivers on the road at once, you usually
pay for more: wages, fuel, route planning, vehicle insurance and maintenance.
That’s adding up now, isn’t it?
The other factor to consider is that with point to point deliveries, each ‘point’ needs
to be set up with procedures and facilities to process deliveries individually from
many sources. This is where automated TMS software can be useful and make a
sound investment to bring down costs.
Even with these drawbacks, in the right context the point to point distribution model
is still the best choice.
So when should you use it?
Courier businesses are an excellent example of successful (and necessary) point
to point distribution models.
Couriers are known for delivering important goods quickly, aren’t they?
Their pricing takes into account the required staffing and fleet structure to deliver fast
moving consumer goods so quickly. Everybody recognises the role they play in our
transport system, and the logistics landscape would look very different without
Clearly, point to point distribution models are a necessary part of our national
transport system. Happily, if you run a courier business, then a full featured
transport management software will give you tools to smooth and speed up these
urgent, time sensitive operations.
Automated smart dispatch. When seconds matter, the ultimate level of speed is
achieved with fully automated dispatch workflows. Get the data to your drivers and
the vehicle on the road immediately.
Multi carrier support. Use an all-in-one platform providing freight managers,
brokers and despatch warehouses with access to a wide range of leading carriers.
Get unparalleled reach.
Route planning optimisation. Route optimisation saves time, lowers costs and
gets freight where it needs to be faster. This part’s pretty simple: more efficient
routes mean higher profits.
We hope this cleared a few things up for you between the hub and spoke and point
to point distribution models. If you still have any questions about how it relates to
your business or how you can improve efficiency, just drop us a line. Our friendly
team is here to help. And if you know someone else who will benefit, please share
this guide with them.
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