Logistics is a big discipline

Roger OakdenLogistics Management

The basics of logistics is easy to understand.

A colleague told me this week that Logistics is simple – pick it up, move it, put it down. But, as he said, it gets more difficult when you consider what must operate successfully, so that the simple tasks are not a waste.

Some years ago there was a video about waste in a business and all it showed was materials and items being picked up, moved and put down. The majority of actions being a waste due to poor planning, scheduling and management.

If we just teach people to be better at picking up, moving and putting down, which some will call productivity improvement, but not teach them the ‘why’, then your logistics staff will be efficient at being wasteful!

To put a logical approach on the ‘why’, ask what is the objective of Logistics – it is to satisfy customer needs. In practice, satisfying customer needs means ‘the time-related positioning of internal and external resources to provide availability of goods and services for customers at lowest total cost’.

Logistics is therefore what an organisation does, with availability as its objective. A supply chain is the environment in which items move

Why Availability is a Challenge

The challenge is because logistics is much more than basic tasks. Complexity of your supply chains is influenced by the level of Variability in demand and Uncertainty in markets, at customers, internally, contractors and suppliers.

This core of Logistics is influenced by the attributes of Availability that your business emphasis – speed, quality of the process, flexibility, dependability or cost. In turn, the attributes are influenced by Constraints that limit achievement of the attributes; location decisions based on volume to weight and value to weight ratios, lead times, inventory form and function decisions and product security.

Rarely discussed, but vital to the effectiveness of your Logistics is understanding the level of power exercised and by which organisations in a supply chain and the corresponding extent of dependency, This affects how each of your supply chains behaves.

Surrounding all these factors is sustainability.

But do the education and training programs get people in logistics thinking past the basic tasks?  And are lecturers and instructors equipped in their own knowledge to tackle both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of logistics and supply chains?

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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...