Definition of Supply Chain Management & Logistics

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Definition of Supply Chain Management & Logistics

Wil Lim


Supply chain management and logistics is rapidly becoming the most important aspect of business success. Those who manage their supply chain and logistics effectively will flourish and prosper, however those who do not may not be around in a few years. Just what is the definition of supply chain management and logistics? Often than not, supply chain management has been confused with the term ‘logistics’ and ‘procurement’.

The term supply chain management has been around for the past twenty years and has had a major influence on today’s business societies. The term logistics originated seventy years ago from the French word “logistique”,  (Wilton, 2005) which is derived from the word “loger” meaning quartering troops. However, in today’s age, these terms are often used by various industries, associations and academics, each with their own definition of the terms. These terms are often derived from the perspectives of the author’s background, skill, exposure and experience to the industry. Supply chain professionals offer different definitions that rightly evolve over time. With the magnitude of different definitions of these two terms, one poses the question on what the proper definition of supply chain management and logistics.

Evolution of Logistics

Surely, the definition of logistics has evolved during the seventy years from its origin. Originally, “logistique” is defined as quartering troops or rather to furnish troops with shelter or entertainment. (Wilton, 2005)  Today, the term logistic does not just mean to furnish troops with shelter or entertainment, this term is widely used in many facets of business, military, and social wise. Yet, the usage of logistic provides different definitions in different areas of which it is used.

Logistics Defined

The most well renowned association in regards to knowing most about logistics would be the Council of Logistics Management (CLM). As defined by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, originally known as CLM before, logistics is termed as “the plans, implements and controls that effectively and efficiently forward and reverse the flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customer’s requirements.” (CSCMP, 2005) Yet, logistics is notably defined as “The procurement, maintenance, distribution, and replacement of personnel and material”. (Websters Dictionary, 2005) Noticeably, there is a difference in the description of the two definitions. The definition of logistics varies not just based on time and different areas of which logistics is used, but also on culture and economics of different countries. In some Eastern European countries, logistics is still termed as transportation or more specifically, trucks. (Trunick, 2004) Logistics, originally a military-based term, is defined in military terms as the process of coordinating the deployment of troops and equipment. (Muller, 1993) Methodically, logistics is regarded as a process to strategically move and store materials or products and information from any point in the manufacturing process through consumer fulfilment and back. (Jenkins, 1995)

Differences and similarities of logistics defined

There seems little doubt that these associations and people whose work involves them in the field known as logistics entertain a great variety of different notions as to precisely how the logistics should be defined. Regardlessly, all five different definitions noted the notion of transportation or rather the movement of a physical object from one point to another. Just as described by Trunick, logistics to some Eastern European countries is defined more specifically to the physical means of transportation or the means of moving a physical object or goods from one point to another, albeit a truck.

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Obvious to the definitions, the similarities and differences depends on the background from which the definition is derived. In a much plain simple thinking and physical sense, logistics is defined as trucks in Eastern European countries. Eastern European countries are not as economized nor technologically advanced when compared to such countries as United States or United Kingdom. These countries maintained their old culture under Soviet rule and recently the accession to the European Union has been hailed as the end of the Cold War. (Trunick, 2004) The infrastructure and industrialisation on some of these countries are very fragile. Similarly ...

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