Mar 13, 2016
United Arab Emirates
Logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers or corporations. The resources managed in logistics can include physical items, such as food, materials, animals, equipment and liquids, as well as abstract items, such as time, information, particles, and energy. The logistics of physical items usually involves the integration of information flow, which is material handling, production, packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing, and often security. The complexity of logistics can be modeled, analyzed, visualized, and optimized by dedicated simulation software. The minimization of the use of resources is a common motivation in logistics for import and export.
Origins and definition
The Oxford English Dictionary defines logistics as “the branch of military science relating to procuring, maintaining and transporting material, personnel and facilities.” However, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines logistics as “the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies,” and the Oxford Dictionary on-line defines it as “the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.” As such, logistics is commonly seen as a branch of engineering that creates “people systems” rather than “machine systems.”
According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (previously the Council of Logistics Management ) logistics is the process of planning, implementing and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements and includes inbound, outbound, internal and external movements. 
Academics and practitioners traditionally refer to the terms operations or production management when referring to physical transformations taking place in a single business location (factory, restaurant or even bank clerking) and reserve the term logistics for activities related to distribution, that is, moving products on the territory. Managing a distribution center is seen, therefore, as pertaining to the realm of logistics since, while in theory the products made by a factory are ready for consumption they still need to be moved along the distribution network according to some logic, and the distribution center aggregates and processes orders coming from different areas of the territory. That being said, from a modeling perspective, there are similarities between operations management and logistics, and companies sometimes use hybrid professionals, with for ex. “Director of Operations” or “Logistics Officer” working on similar problems. Furthermore, the term supply chain management originally refers to, among other issues, having a global vision in of both production and logistics from point of origin to point of production. All these terms may suffer from semantic change as a side effect of advertising.
Logistics activities and fields
Inbound logistics:Inbound logistics is one of the primary processes of logistics, concentrating on purchasing and arranging the inbound movement of materials, parts, and/or finished inventory from suppliers to manufacturing or assembly plants, warehouses, or retail stores.
Outbound logistics:Outbound logistics is the process related to the storage and movement of the final product and the related information flows from the end of the production line to the end user.
Given the services performed by logisticians, the main fields of logistics can be broken down as follows:
Distribution logistics has, as main tasks, the delivery of the finished products to the customer. It consists of order processing, warehousing, and transportation. Distribution logistics is necessary because the time, place, and quantity of production differs with the time, place, and quantity of consumption.
Disposal logistics has as its main function to reduce logistics cost(s) and enhance service(s) related to the disposal of waste produced during the operation of a business.
Reverse logistics denotes all those operations related to the reuse of products and materials. The reverse logistics process includes the management and the sale of surpluses, as well as products being returned to vendors from buyers. Reverse logistics stands for all operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is “the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the efficient, cost effective flow of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin for the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal. More precisely, reverse logistics is the process of moving goods from their typical final destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal. The opposite of reverse logistics is forward logistics.
Green Logistics describes all attempts to measure and minimize the ecological impact of logistics activities. This includes all activities of the forward and reverse flows. This can be achieved through intermodal freight transport, path optimization, vehicle saturation and city logistics.
RAM Logistics (see also Logistic engineering) combines both business logistics and military logistics since it is concerned with highly complicated technological systems for which Reliability, Availability and Maintainability are essential, ex: weapon systems and military supercomputers.
Asset Control Logistics: companies in the retail channels, both organized retailers and suppliers, often deploy assets required for the display, preservation, promotion of their products. Some examples are refrigerators, stands, display monitors, seasonal equipment, poster stands & frames.
A forklift truck loads a pallet of humanitarian aid to Pakistan on board a C-17 aircraft, following devastating floods in the country in 2010.
The term production logistics describes logistic processes within a value adding system (ex:factory or a mine). Production logistics aims to ensure that each machine and workstation receives 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 to eliminate non–value-adding processes. Production logistics can operate in 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 becomes more important with decreasing batch sizes. In many industries (e.g. mobile phones), the short-term goal is a batch size of one, 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 reliability issues, is also gaining importance, especially in the automotive and medical industries.
Punjab Regiment uses mules for carrying cargo in Burma during WWII. Animals have been used for logistic purposes by different people throughout history, the Roman army in particular preferred mules over donkeys for their moving capacity.
Military 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 United States Armed Forces’ 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 lower 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.
Some classes of supply have a linear demand relationship: as more troops are added, more supply items are needed; or as more equipment is used, more fuel and ammunition are 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 them to future scenarios, the US Armed Forces 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. The lack thereof can lead to a clunky, slow, and ill-equipped force with too much or too little supply.
A forklift stacking a logistics provider’s warehouse of goods on pallets.
The term “business logistics” has evolved since the 1960s 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 professionals called “supply chain logisticians”.
In business, logistics may have either an internal focus (inbound logistics) or an 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, while the other coordinates a sequence of resources to carry out some project (ex:restructuring a warehouse).
Nodes of a distribution network
Factories where products are manufactured or assembled
Logistic families and metrics
Physical metrics used to evaluate inventory systems include stocking capacity, selectivity, superficial utilization, volumetric utilization, transport capacity, transport capacity utilization.
Handling and order processing
Unit loads for transportation of luggage at the airport, in this case the unit load has protective function.
Handling systems include: trans-pallet handlers, counterweight handler, retractable mast handler, bilateral handlers, trilateral handlers, AGV and stacker handlers. Storage systems include: pile stocking, cell racks (either static or movable), cantilever racks and gravity racks.
Order processing is a sequential process involving: processing withdrawal list, picking (selective removal of items from loading units), sorting (assembling items based on destination), package formation (weighting, labeling and packing), order consolidation (gathering packages into loading units for transportation, control and bill of lading).
Picking can be both manual or automated. Manual picking can be both man to goods, i.e. operator using a cart or conveyor belt, or goods to man, i.e. the operator benefiting from the presence of a mini-load ASRS, vertical or horizontal carousel or from an Automatic Vertical Storage System (AVSS). Automatic picking is done either with dispensers or depalletizing robots.
Sorting can be done manually through carts or conveyor belts, or automatically through sorters.
Operators involved in transportation include: all train, road vehicles, boats, airplanes companies, couriers, freight forwarders and multi-modal transport operators.
Merchandise being transported internationally is usually subject to the Incoterms standards issued by the International Chamber of Commerce.
Configuration and management
Push-Back rack for motorcycles, a LIFO rack system for storage.
Traditionally in logistics configuration may be at the level of the warehouse (node) or at level of the distribution system (network).
Regarding a single warehouse, besides the issue of designing and building the warehouse, configuration means solving a number of interrelated technical-economic problems: dimensioning rack cells, choosing a palletizing method (manual or through robots), rack dimensioning and design, number of racks, number and typology of retrieval systems (e.g. stacker cranes). Some important constraints have to be satisfied: fork and load beams resistance to bending and proper placement of sprinklers. Although picking is more of a tactical planning decision than a configuration problem, it is important to take it into account when deciding the racks layout inside the warehouse and buying tools such as handlers and motorized carts since once those decisions are taken they will work as constraints when managing the warehouse, same reasoning for sorting when designing the conveyor system and/or installing automatic dispensers.
Configuration at the level of the distribution system concerns primarily the problem of location of the nodes in a geographic space and distribution of capacity among the nodes. The first may be referred to as facility location (with the special case of site selection) while the latter to as capacity allocation. The problem of outsourcing typically arises at this level: the nodes of a supply chain are very rarely owned by a single enterprise. Distribution networks can be characterized by numbers of levels, namely the number of intermediary nodes between supplier and consumer:
Direct store delivery, i.e. zero levels
Although configuring a distribution network from zero is possible, logisticians usually have to deal with restructuring existing networks due to presence of an array of factors: changing demand, product or process innovation, opportunities for outsourcing, change of government policy toward trade barriers, innovation in transportation means (both vehicles or thoroughfares), introduction of regulations (notably those regarding pollution) and availability of ICT supporting systems (e.g. ERP or e-commerce).
Once a logistic system is configured, management, meaning tactical decisions, takes place, once again, at the level of the warehouse and of the distribution network. Decisions have to be made under a set of constraints: internal, such as using the available infrastructure, or external, such as complying with given product shelf lifes and expiration dates.
At the warehouse level, the logistician must decide how to distribute merchandise over the racks. Three basic situations are traditionally considered: shared storage, dedicated storage (rack space reserved for specific merchandise) and class based storage (class meaning merchandise organized in different areas according to their access index).
Airline logistic network. Note how Denver works as hub in the network.
Routing path: standard alternatives include transversal routing, return routing, midpoint routing and largest gap return routing
Warehouse management and control
Outsourcing does not have to be complete externalization to a LSP, but can also be partial:
A single contract for supplying a specific service on occasion
The concept of a fourth-party logistics (4PL) provider was first defined by Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as an integrator that assembles the resources, planning 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 single function, a 4PL targets management of the entire process. Some have described a 4PL as a general contractor that manages other 3PLs, truckers, forwarders, custom house agents, and others, essentially taking responsibility of a complete process for the customer.
Horizontal alliances between logistics service providers
ASRS used by the U.S. military, also used by business in conjunction with manual picking.
Industrial machinery can typically identify products through either Bar Code or RFID technologies. Information in traditional bar codes is stored as a sequence of black and white bars varying in width, which when read by laser is translated in a binary sequence, which according to fixed rules can be converted in a decimal number. Sometimes information in a bar code can be transmitted through radio frequency, more typically radio transmission is used in RFID tags. An RFID tag is card containing a memory chip and an antenna which transmits signals to a reader. RFID may be found on merchandise, animals, vehicles and people as well.
Logistics: profession and organizations
Some universities and academic institutions train students as logisticians, offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs. A university with a primary focus on logistics is Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany. It is non profit and supported by Kühne-Foundation of the logistics entrepreneur Klaus Michael Kühne.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), established in the United Kingdom in 1919, received 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. CILT programs can be studied at centers around UK, some of which also offer distance learning options. The institute also have overseas branches namely The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Australia (CILTA) in Australia and Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Hong Kong (CILTHK) in Hong Kong.
The International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL) is a professional network that promotes the professional development of supply chain managers and others working in the field of public health logistics and commodity security, with particular focus on developing countries. The association supports logisticians worldwide by providing a community of practice, where members can network, exchange ideas, and improve their professional skills.
Museum of Logistics (Tokyo, Japan)
Royal Logistic Corps Museum (Surrey, England, United Kingdom)
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