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Logistics is the management of the flow of the goods, information and other resources in a repair cycle between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of customers. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and occasionally security. Logistics is a channel of the supply chain which adds the value of time and place utility. Today the complexity of production logistics can be modeled, analyzed, visualized and optimized by plant simulation software.
Origins and definition
The term logistics comes from the Greek logos (λόγος), meaning "speech, reason, ratio, rationality, language, phrase", and more specifically from the Greek word logistiki (λογιστική), meaning accounting and financial organization. The word logistics has its origin in the French verb loger to lodge or to quarter. Its original use was to describe the science of movement, supplying & maintenance of military forces in the field. Later on it was used to describe the management of materials flow through an organization, from raw materials through to finished goods.
Logistics is considered to have originated in the military's need to supply themselves with arms, ammunition and rations as they moved from their base to a forward position. In ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, military officers with the title Logistikas were responsible for financial and supply distribution matters.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines logistics as "the branch of military science having to do with procuring, maintaining and transporting materiel, personnel and facilities." Another dictionary definition is "the time-related positioning of resources." As such, logistics is commonly seen as a branch of engineering that creates "people systems" rather than "machine systems". When we talk in terms of HRM logistics means giving inputs i.e. recruiting manpowers which ultimately works for the final consumer or to deliver services.
In military science, maintaining one's supply lines while disrupting those of the enemy is a crucial—some would say the most crucial—element of military strategy, since an armed force without resources and transportation is defenseless. The defeat of the British in the American War of Independence and the defeat of the Axis in the African theatre of World War II are attributed to logistical failure. The historical leaders Hannibal Barca, Alexander the Great, and the Duke of Wellington are considered to have been logistical geniuses.
Militaries have a significant need for logistics solutions, and so have developed advanced implementations. Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) is a discipline used in military industries to ensure an easily supportable system with a robust customer service (logistic) concept at the lowest cost and in line with (often high) reliability, availability, maintainability and other requirements as defined for the project.
In military logistics, logistics officers manage how and when to move resources to the places they are needed.
Supply chain management in military logistics often deals with a number of variables in predicting cost, deterioration, consumption, and future demand. The US Military's categorical supply classification was developed in such a way that categories of supply with similar consumption variables are grouped together for planning purposes. For instance, peacetime consumption of ammunition and fuel will be considerably less than wartime consumption of these items, whereas other classes of supply such as subsistence and clothing have a relatively consistent consumption rate regardless of war or peace. Troops will always require uniform and food. More troops will require equally more uniforms and food.
Some classes of supply have a linear demand relationship—as more troops are added more supply items are needed—as more equipment is used more fuel and ammunition is consumed. Other classes of supply must consider a third variable besides usage and quantity: time. As equipment ages more and more repair parts are needed over time, even when usage and quantity stays consistent. By recording and analyzing these trends over time and applying to future scenarios, the US Military can accurately supply troops with the items necessary at the precise moment they are needed. History has shown that good logistical planning creates a lean and efficient fighting force. Lack thereof can lead to a clunky, slow, and ill-equipped force with too much or too little supply.
Logistics as a business concept evolved in the 1950s due to the increasing complexity of supplying businesses with materials and shipping out products in an increasingly globalized supply chain, leading to a call for experts called supply chain logisticians. Business logistics can be defined as "having the right item in the right quantity at the right time at the right place for the right price in the right condition to the right customer", and is the science of process and incorporates all industry sectors. The goal of logistics work is to manage the fruition of project life cycles, supply chains and resultant efficiencies.
In business, logistics may have either internal focus (inbound logistics), or external focus (outbound logistics) covering the flow and storage of materials from point of origin to point of consumption (see supply chain management). The main functions of a qualified logistician include inventory management, purchasing, transportation, warehousing, consultation and the organizing and planning of these activities. Logisticians combine a professional knowledge of each of these functions to coordinate resources in an organization. There are two fundamentally different forms of logistics: one optimizes a steady flow of material through a network of transport links and storage nodes; the other coordinates a sequence of resources to carry out some project..
The term production logistics is used to describe logistic processes within an industry. The purpose of production logistics is to ensure that each machine and workstation is being fed with the right product in the right quantity and quality at the right time. The concern is not the transportation itself, but to streamline and control the flow through value-adding processes and eliminate non–value-adding ones. Production logistics can be applied to existing as well as new plants. Manufacturing in an existing plant is a constantly changing process. Machines are exchanged and new ones added, which gives the opportunity to improve the production logistics system accordingly. Production logistics provides the means to achieve customer response and capital efficiency.
Production logistics is becoming more important with decreasing batch sizes. In many industries (e.g. mobile phones), a batch size of one is the short-term aim, allowing even a single customer's demand to be fulfilled efficiently. Track and tracing, which is an essential part of production logistics—due to product safety and product reliability issues—is also gaining importance, especially in the automotive and medical industries.
Logistics management is that part of the supply chain which plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customer and legal requirements. A professional working in the field of logistics management is called a logistician.
Logistics management is known by many names, the most common are as follows :
- Materials Management
- Channel Management
- Distribution (or Physical Distribution)
- Business or Logistics Management or
- Supply Chain Management
The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) was established in the United Kingdom in 1919 and was granted a Royal Charter in 1926. The Chartered Institute is one of the professional bodies or institutions, for the logistics and transport sectors, that offers professional qualifications or degrees in logistics management.
Warehouse management systems and warehouse control systems
Although there is some functionality overlap, the differences between warehouse management systems (WMS) and warehouse control systems (WCS) can be significant. Simply put, a WMS plans a weekly activity forecast based on such factors as statistics and trends, whereas a WCS acts like a floor supervisor, working in real time to get the job done by the most effective means. For instance, a WMS can tell the system it is going to need five of stock-keeping unit (SKU) A and five of SKU B hours in advance, but by the time it acts, other considerations may have come into play or there could be a logjam on a conveyor. A WCS can prevent that problem by working in real time and adapting to the situation by making a last-minute decision based on current activity and operational status. Working synergistically, WMS and WCS can resolve these issues and maximize efficiency for companies that rely on the effective operation of their warehouse or distribution centre.
Third-party logistics (3PL) involves using external organizations to execute logistics activities that have traditionally been performed within an organization itself. According to this definition, third-party logistics includes any form of outsourcing of logistics activities previously performed in-house. If, for example, a company with its own warehousing facilities decides to employ external transportation, this would be an example of third-party logistics. Logistics is an emerging business area in many countries.
The concept of Fourth-Party Logistics (4PL) provider was first defined by Andersen Consulting (Now Accenture) as an integrator that assembles the resources, capabilities and technology of its own organization and other organizations to design, build, and run comprehensive supply chain solutions. Whereas a third party logistics (3PL) service provider targets a function, a 4PL targets management of the entire process. Some have described a 4PL as a general contractor who manages other 3PLs, truckers, forwarders, custom house agents, and others, essentially taking responsibility of a complete process for the customer.
Emergency logistics is a term used by the logistics, supply chain and manufacturing industries to denote specific time critical modes of transport used to move goods or objects rapidly in the event of an emergency. The reason for enlisting emergency logistics services could be a production delay or anticipated production delay, or it could be that specialist equipment is needed urgently to prevent instances such as aircraft being grounded (also known as "aircraft on ground"--AOG), ships being delayed, or telecommunications failure. Emergency logistics services are typically sourced from a specialist provider.
A logistician is a professional logistics practitioner. Professional logisticians are often certified by professional associations. Some universities and academic institutions train students as logisticians, offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs.