Logistics as a business concept evolved in the 1950s due to the increasing complexity of supplying businesses with materials and shipping out products in an increasingly globalized supply chain, leading to a call for experts called "supply chain logisticians".
In business, logistics may have either an internal focus (inbound logistics) or an external focus (outbound logistics), covering the flow and storage of materials from point of origin to point of consumption . The main functions of a qualified logistician include inventory management, purchasing, transportation, warehousing, consultation, and the organizing and planning of these activities. Logisticians combine a professional knowledge of each of these functions to coordinate resources in an organization.
There are two fundamentally different forms of logistics: one optimizes a steady flow of material through a network of transport links and storage nodes, while the other coordinates a sequence of resources to carry out some project.
Production logisticsThe term production logistics describes logistic processes within an industry. Production logistics aims to ensure that each machine and workstation receives the right product in the right quantity and quality at the right time. The concern is not the transportation itself, but to streamline and control the flow through value-adding processes and to eliminate non–value-adding processes. Production logistics can operate in existing as well as new plants. Manufacturing in an existing plant is a constantly changing process. Machines are exchanged and new ones added, which gives the opportunity to improve the production logistics system accordingly. Production logistics provides the means to achieve customer response and capital efficiency.
Production logistics becomes more important with decreasing batch sizes. In many industries (e.g., mobile phones), the short-term goal is a batch size of one, allowing even a single customer's demand to be fulfilled efficiently. Track and tracing, which is an essential part of production logistics due to product safety and reliability issues, is also gaining importance, especially in the automotive and medical industries.
Warehouse management systems and warehouse control systemsAlthough there is some overlap in functionality, warehouse management systems (WMS) can differ significantly from warehouse control systems (WCS). Simply put, a WMS plans a weekly activity forecast based on such factors as statistics and trends, whereas a WCS acts like a floor supervisor, working in real time to get the job done by the most effective means. For instance, a WMS can tell the system that it is going to need five of stock-keeping unit (SKU) A and five of SKU B hours in advance, but by the time it acts, other considerations may have come into play or there could be a logjam on a conveyor. A WCS can prevent that problem by working in real time and adapting to the situation by making a last-minute decision based on current activity and operational status. Working synergistically, WMS and WCS can resolve these issues and maximize efficiency for companies that rely on the effective operation of their warehouse or distribution center.
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