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What is logistics?

What does the word ‘logistics’ mean to you – what do you think about when you hear the word logistics?

What does the word ‘logistics’ mean to you – what do you think about when you hear the word logistics?

Simply put – Logistics means getting the right thing, to the right place, at the right time. It started off as a military term but it is now used globally for the storage and movement of goods.

Why do we need logistics – what would life be like without logistics?

The film above, titled ‘Life without logistics’ was produced by the Freight Transport Association and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. It introduces how logistics can affect our day to day lives, and it highlights what life will be like if it didn’t exist. How would we get our bowl of cornflakes and milk in the morning, the chairs we sit on and the table we eat at!

Video reproduced by kind permission of the FTA (Freight Transport Association)

Logistics is more than just transport it also includes storage but more than that, it is how companies plan and organise how raw materials and finished goods get from their point of origin to the consumer and at times back again if we think about returns and what happens in between times.

According to the Council of Logistics Management

“Logistics – is the process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services, and related information from point of origin to point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica

The role of logistics

The role of logistics is to facilitate getting the product to the customer:

  • On time (OT)
  • In Full (IF)
  • To the right person
  • To the right place
  • In the right condition
  • With the right paperwork
  • At the right cost
  • As environmentally friendly as possible

If we order an item from our favourite internet retailer we want to receive that item as quickly as possible, it needs to arrive in pristine condition and we don’t want to pay too much for delivery. If all of this can be done without overly harming the environment, then that is a bonus. We also need the option of returning the item if it doesn’t fit or we don’t like it.

We therefore need to use aircraft, trains, ships, trucks and vans together with warehouses to make this happen.

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Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You

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