The role of logistics in human history

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Akylbekova Aigerim

Logistics is a very old discipline that has been, currently is, and always will be, critical to our everyday lives. Today, logistics is a rather complicated and advanced process but it began years ago in a less advanced form. The frequently mentioned ‘logistics’ originated from the word ‘logistique’ or ‘loger’ in French which mean storage. Logistics in English refers to a system that transports goods, information and resources from a place of origin to a destination according to customer’s needs at an agreed upon time, cost and condition.

Logistics goes back a long way. Logistics is primarily a military term, so the first applications were in military areas. Ancient Roman and Greek wars are the basis for today’s logistics systems. Romans developed a highly efficient logistic system to supply its legions. They introduced supply lines and supply depots at 30 km intervals (one day’s march). Alexander the Great produced a logistics system to support troops rather than rely on living off the land. Napoleon planned his logistics campaigns well and logistics and supply was a top priority. Military officers called “logistikas” were responsible for ensuring the supply and allocation of resources, so that soldiers could move forward efficiently. Their duties also included inflicting damage to the supply locations of the enemy and safeguarding one’s own supply locations.

Logistics management originated by the British Army far before the outbreak of the First World War where a military supply chain system was developed by building infrastructure such as roads, railroads, ports, airfields, supply stores and vehicles to transport weapons and troops.

During the Middle Ages elaborate supply systems, roads and warehouses were used. Forts and castles became storage depots supported by the economy of the surrounding countryside. During the Industrial Revolution, logistics advanced greatly with the addition of railways and ships.

During the Second World War (1939-1945), logistics evolved significantly. The army logistics of the United States and the Allies turned out to be more than the German army could withstand. The supply points of the German armed forces were severely damaged, and Germany was unable to inflict the same damage to its enemy. The United States Armed Forces provided services and supplies at the right time and in the right place. She also tried to provide these services whenever and wherever it was required, in the most optimal and economical way. The best available options for this task have been developed. It also gave rise to several methods of military logistics that are still in use, although in a more advanced form.

After World War II, logistics moved from warfare to business. Physical distribution of products began with a focus on outbound activity. Filling orders, distribution of products, storage and warehousing, production planning and customer service are presently important aspects of the logistics process.

In the United States, which started its agricultural produce distribution across the continent in the late 19th Century, there was a development of industrial goods distribution system. This eventually led to the start of the official Logistics Management Science in the US in 1964. The public sector has adapted the logistics management into their business practice up until now.

An entire industry was born from what started as a way to get products from point A to point B. Many companies now rely on outsourcing for some or all of their supply chain management activities, resulting in the development of third party logistics companies for efficient transport and tracking of goods.

For commerce and industrial sector, logistics plays an important role in reducing costs which in turn increases profits. It is also used as an important tool in creating competitiveness as it helps create effectiveness in customer service, establish a good relationship with both internal and external customer and acts as a foundation for the business growth with a help from the speedy information technology. With the increase in globalization in the 1990s, companies started to import and export more, and transportation has become an important factor for businesses in terms of cost and timeliness.

Businesses gave importance to transportation in order to maintain their existence in a competitive environment. However, length of distances and the importance of time management have been competitive factors, and businesses must act by integrating various transportation systems. As a result, control of transportation systems has become an important factor. Companies have considered transportation as strategically important in order to maintain the speed of their activities and avoid losing their market share.

As a result of the never-ending drive to maintain competitiveness, the field of “logistics management” has emerged, which includes all stages of transportation.

Logistics costs are a significant part of many companies’ expenses, so many businesses have long explored using external resources to reduce logistics costs. In a globalized world, everyone has become a potential buyer, every company has become a potential supplier, and even medium-sized companies have the chance to find a customer or supplier in every country. The aim of purchasing is to supply cheap raw materials with the fastest and lowest costs, and the end goal is to find the shortest and most cost-effective way to sell products to the whole world.

While each country has become a potential market, supply and sales opportunities between countries have resulted in the need for logistics, allowing the logistics industry to reach growth rates of up to 20% each year.

With the supply chain becoming more important, supply chain departments within companies were created, while logistics companies started to provide complete service solutions from planning to stock management. With all of these developments, a complete logistics and supply chain management industry has emerged and is booming.

As you can see, logistics is an important part of production and commodity relations in the modern world. Therefore, the application of its concepts and tasks, as well as awareness of its functions, makes it possible to make any business efficient and independent of external conditions.

Today it is difficult to imagine the work of any transport company without this science. Its introduction into the business and everyday life gave new jobs and allowed to bring the activities of companies involved in trade and transportation of goods to a higher level.