This paper is concerned with the application of systems analysis to problems of physical distribution. The principles of systems analysis and the concepts of the systems approach are outlined. Physical distribution is described as a set of major subsystems. The objective of this analysis is to provide a generalised framework for the solution of physical distribution problems. It may be noted that in the United Kingdom, systems analysis has come to be used in a narrower sense and to be concerned primarily with the design and specification of computer systems. In this paper, it is used in the wider sense, and for an appreciation the reader's attention is drawn to collections of papers by Emery, Opfner and Beishon and Peters. The use of a problem solving methodology is not unique to systems analysis except in the sense that systems analysis defines a particular process of problem solution. Similar processes are used in industrial engineering, method study, operational research, value analysis and management accounting. Other analyses of physical distribution systems are equally valid. That presented in this paper identifies a series of distribution units in the chain of distribution. It seeks to define the subsystems within each unit. The approach relies heavily on a series of diagrams which is intended to give a visual image of the relationships between elements in the chain.
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