Logistics - An Integral Component of Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management encompasses, planning, design, control and implementation of all business processes related to procurement, manufacturing, distribution and sales order fulfillment functions of a business.

All these activities involve multiple networks of vendors and service providers which are integrated and co-coordinated by the Supply Chain Experts of the organization to move raw materials and finished goods from and to all distant locations across the globe.

Logistics is the backbone on which Supply Chains are driven. Logistics refers to the management of the flow of goods and supplies involving information, data and documentation between two entities or points.

Logistics plays important role in post procurement function of delivery of raw material from the supplier to the point of production and Finished Goods Supply chain management from the point of dispatch from factory to the point of delivery to the customer.

The flow of goods flows through a network of transportation by road, rail, air or ship and intermediary warehouses to hold inventories before moving to the forward locations. The entire activity involves multi-tier suppliers, agents, and agencies including freight forwarders, packers, customs department, distributors and Logistics service providers, etc.

Logistics therefore is an integral component of Supply Chain Management.

Origin of Logistics as a recognized discipline is attributed to military and defense organizations. Defense departments make use of detailed and extensive planning to gather supplies and move men and materials to various locations and bases. The success of any military exercise depends upon the ability of the establishment to be able to gather information, analyze, assimilate and take appropriate logistical measures to support their units continuously.

Similarly in any business organization, the successful operations depend upon visibility and control over the logistics process managed through and with excellent logistics service provider backbone and network.

In many cases Supply chain is often referred to as Logistics and vice e versa. Though logistics and supply chain are intricately linked, both do not mean the same. Logistics is a sub-component and extension of Supply Chain.

Supply chain design in an organization would detail, plan and strategize the procurement strategy, manufacturing location selection, design and develop distribution network and strategy for finished goods, etc. While logistics planning would deal with the details of procurement logistics, finished goods distribution, sales order fulfillment, and inventory management, etc. Logistics planning drives the strategic direction and framework for its design planning from SCM Strategy.

Take the case of production procurement, SCM strategy will define the process, selection of vendors, procurement strategy and the mode of order fulfillment coupled with cycle time and lead time to supply to the production floor. Logistics in this case details out the mode of transportation from the vendor, the consignment planning, process for order trigger, consolidation of shipments, detailing transportation modes and vendors, defines transit times, documentation process and implements the plan, controls and monitors the flow of goods from point of origin up to the point of delivery to the plant for production.

In the case of Finished Goods distribution, SCM strategy will define overall network design for stock holding and other channels of distribution. Logistics deals with the entire gamut of designing transportation network, partnering with 3rd party logistics providers to establish distribution centers and warehouses, planning inventory management and operations process including packing, promotional bundling, etc., primary, secondary distribution network and vendors and at the end the complete documentation and information process for the entire chain of activities.

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