A Little History
When and where did logistics start?
Is it a modern term or a function that is centuries old?
Logistics is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
“1. the aspect of military science dealing with the procurement, maintenance, and transportation of military matériel, facilities, and personnel, and 2. the handling of the details of an operation.”
This concept dates at least from the early Greek and Roman days in the military’s need to supply arms, ammunition and food to the fighting forces. In earlier times, the term was used primarily when discussing military needs. In modern times, the term has been broadened to include the needs of the civilian business world as well.
Many people think first of just the trucking aspects of logistics – the act of physically getting products to their destinations. However, in today’s complex world, logistics is so much more than just trucking. It includes supply chain management, cost control, market research and the great amount of planning that is needed before the product ever gets on a truck (or other mode of transportation). Logistics as a business, as opposed to a military, function dates back to the 1950s, but has only come into common usage even more recently.
One more modern definition is:
“Having the right item in the right quantity at the right time at the right place for the right price in the right condition to the right customer.”
This is a very broad and demanding process – much broader than the original military concepts. For companies to succeed in the 21stCentury, they need to have excellent control of their entire logistics needs. We’ve come a long way from the Greek/Roman days, and we’re sure there is still a long way to go in the future.