Logistics came from the word logos (λόγος), which means “calculation, ratio, reason, speech and oration.” Since ancient times, logistics is already used to supply, move and maintain armies especially during war time. Historical leaders such as Alexander the Great, Hannibal Barca, and the Duke of Wellington are said to be logistical geniuses who mobilized their army through great distances, and won numerous battles. During World War II, logistics played an important role for the United States since the resources is during that time is limited due to the depression and most of the battles happened in enemy territories in Europe.
Today, logistics is now also known as supply chain management (SCM) and defined as the art and science of planning, operation, control, design and development, procurement, inventory, maintenance, storage, distribution and replacement of personnel, materials, supplies and other resources. (LogisticsWorld) Logistics or SCM does not only apply to the military but to business, production and trade well. The main objective of logistics is simple, that is, to use the resources without waste to meet or exceed the demands of the party in need.
These resources that must be minimized (or sometimes maximized) include fuel, personnel, equipment, storage facilities, handling facilities, transport vehicles and most importantly, time and money. There are two criteria for which all logistics decisions and policies are based. These are production efficiency and effectiveness. (Eccles, 1959) By using the resources efficiently and effectively is to have the advantage of getting bigger opportunities, higher revenues, strategic advantage in coverage and location, and preparedness for crucial events that might happen.
Developed from James A. Huston’s Sinews of War are some of the important principles considered in logistics. These principles are:
Timing. Should be relative to the objective and dependent in the level of procurement, whether a high-level or a just simply a tactical supply. Proper timing is important especially when certain risks are involved in accomplishing a certain task.
Feasibility. Logistics planning and design should also consider the organization’s capabilities of carrying out orders. It is crucial to determine whether the organization can possibly accomplish the task given the difficulty of the demands.
Flexibility. A logistics organization must be capable of adapting to new or changes in requirements or terrain conditions. A logistics organization must be able to convert according to the present conditions or problems that are encountered anytime along the way.
Information. Accurate and up-to-date information on every aspect is vital to logistics planning and distribution. False or unseen information may lead to accidents or loss of revenue.
Economics. Resources allocated for logistics are almost always limited and it is necessary to use them in the best way to achieve or exceed the primary goal.
Relativity. Logistics activity is all relative to time, location, availability of resources and circumstances and can never be absolute. Each logistic activity is unique and changes according to different conditions and demands.
Location is also an important factor being considered in logistics. This applies for both the distribution center and the destinations at which the required product or good is needed. It is crucial to determine the location in logistics as it determines the distance, total time needed to travel, and how big is the coverage of the distribution center at which it can deliver the desired goods at minimized cost. The nearer the location of the distribution center, the shorter the time it takes to deliver and the lesser the cost of travel that will be used. Location does not only mean the distance but also the topography of the region.
The topography of the place between the source and destination dictates the appropriate or best mode of transport that should be used. For example, to deliver supplies in mountainous area from a lowland city, the best way to deliver the product or good in a time-efficient manner is through air by helicopters. But if there is an acceptable and safe road present towards the destination, delivering by land is more cost-efficient.
To attain higher logistic efficiency, there are a lot of factors that are involved depending on the demands and level of procurement. Location is only one but an important factor that must be considered to have a more efficient and effective method of procurement and distribution of goods. Some of these factors include: the distribution strategy; resource availability; network configuration, and; inventory management.
Logistics, added with efficiency and effectiveness translates to power. (Boutelle, 2007) This applies to both the military and in trade & industry. Logistics can be seen as military power or economic power depending on the one who perceives it. As of today, the United States military does not content itself of having the most powerful army, but now also develop ways in order to create a the most cost-effective military that can withstand the long-term war on terrorism. The knowledge and foresight of supply and movement factors are the basis of a logistician’s plan. Only then he can know when and how to take risks that will win him battles and achieve the ultimate goal; which is the betterment of his fellow men. (Wavell, 1946)
Boutelle, L. G. (2007). CIO View. Retrieved August 18, 2007, from Defense Systems Website: http://www.defensesystems.com/issues/1_5/cio_view/464-1.html
Cox, M. D. (1999, September). LogisticsWorld. Retrieved August 17, 2007, from LogisticsWorld Website: http://www.logisticsworld.com/logistics.htm
Eccles, A. H. (1959). Logistics in the National Defense. Harrisburg, Pa.
How The Army Runs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2007, from US Army WAr College Website: http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/dclm/linkedtextchapters/CHAPTER12.pdf
Huston, J. A. (1966). The Sinews of War: Army Logistics, 1775-1953. Washington: Office of Military History, United States Army.
Wavell, F. M. (1946). Speaking Generally. London: Macmillan.
Worthen, B. (n.d.). ABC: An Introduction to Supply Chain Management. Retrieved August 18, 2007, from Business Technology Leadership Website: http://www.cio.com/article/40940