How do you explain logistics?

Roger OakdenGlobal Logistics

Things said on television.

I have been watching the TV series Planet Word, hosted by the British entertainment personality, Stephen Fry. In the most recent episode he was discussing an advertisement for a job in which the word logistics was used. The speaker asked Stephen Fry if he knew what  the term meant; to which Stephen responded “it has to do with transport”.

I gasped in amazement – here was a person considered to be widely read and knowledgeable, telling the audience that logistics equals transport. So we now have another group of people with the same misunderstanding as many others, including those associated with logistics. When asked the question, How do you answer ‘what is logistics?’

What is logistics?

The essence of logistics is availability – if the required item (material, product or service) is not available for sale when required by the customer, then all the effort of the business has no value. For the item to be available means that resources must be planned and scheduled, to position the item where the customer requires it to be (whether a warehouse, distribution centre, building site or home address).

You can construct your own definition of logistics, but to accurately reflect what occurs requires incorporation of the words: availability (or available), time, planning and of course customers. It does not require the term ‘transport’, although as we know, transport is one of the resources to be planned and scheduled to achieve availability.

My definition of logistics is ‘the time related planning of resources to enable availability of items for customers and consumers’. An overview of logistics and the jobs that people do to make logistics happen is available on my website.

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About the Author

Roger Oakden

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With my background as a practitioner, consultant and educator, I am uniquely qualified to provide practical learning in supply chains and logistics. I have co-authored a book on these subjects, published by McGraw-Hill. As the program Manager at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, I developed and presented the largest supply chain post-graduate program in the Asia Pacific region, with centres in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong. Read More...