Forecasting, procurement, sourcing, profitability. Logistics management, boiled down, is about wrangling all the moving parts related to the production and distribution of a company’s supply chain. There you go; there’s the definition. Now we can all go home.
In truth, the myriad processes handled by a logistician or a logistics team cannot be easily summarized. Too many operations fall under the umbrella of this critical role within supply chain management (SCM).
Here, the term “supply chain” is especially apt, because we can best describe where the logistics team is situated by pointing to the individual chain “links” and how they affect one another.
As manufacturing evolves with demand, disruption becomes more rampant, and the macro trend toward more contract manufacturing continues, supply chains today are more complex than ever. More and more links are added to the supply chain as logistics managers navigate new partnerships with more third-party providers.
And as with many other manufacturing roles, logistics management can be positioned along any of several points across an organization, and can also be optimized with the right tools.
What Falls Under the Umbrella of Logistics Management?
Logistics management can be used to describe various jobs within the manufacturing and operations field:
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain operations include the heaviest overlap with logistics management. Overseeing the point of origin, sourcing, and procurement of raw materials are the first steps of logistics within a manufacturing organization. Inbound and outbound activities also include managing partnerships between the organization and suppliers.
Accurate fleet management ensures that products and materials are moved efficiently from one point to another, from distribution centers to delivery destinations. In recent years, transport is often where supply chains break down, so now more than ever, logistics managers need to keep a close eye to minimize profitability loss during this stage.
Logistics also refers to internally facing operations. The operations manager is responsible for maintaining a smooth business workflow and developing new strategies to increase efficiency.
Warehousing is integral to upholding a robust supply chain. From determining the most efficient use of warehouse floor space to streamlining order fulfillment, continuous warehouse optimizations ensure the supply chain runs smoothly without disruptions.
Keeping track of all the raw materials, parts, subassemblies, and other supplies needed to manufacture products for a final sale to customers cannot happen without inventory management. With daily inventory control to ensure that numbers are accurately portraying the amount of material available, both directions of the supply chain are kept fed and maintained. If inventory is low, it may trigger increased procurement; if too high, it’s time to reassess customer demand.
While inventory management relates to parts and raw materials before products are finished, stock management specifically deals with finished products and goods ready to sell to endpoint customers. Depending on the size of the company, stock management might start all the way back at procurement or it may only encapsulate the final production stage. Either way, it’s the closest step prior to the product reaching the customer and is therefore critical to maintaining a positive customer experience.
Though product management is sometimes thought of as separate from logistics, the two are so closely intertwined it deserves a place under the umbrella. A product manager's job is to manage all of the moving parts throughout the product life cycle.
Always keeping their eye on the ball that is customer experience, product managers work with every role listed above to ensure the highest level of efficiency and to stay ahead of any disruptions within the process. As a role that touches almost every single department, product management acts as the hub for a company’s innovation and revenue potential.
How Tech Streamlines Logistics Planning and Management
For decades, most logistics operations were able to run smoothly enough using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, but the modern supply chain—and demand chain—are far more complex than original ERP developers could have predicted. As evidenced above, logistics management requires deft coordination and constant communication across the organization—which categorically cannot be accomplished without a powerful common platform shared by every team.
Cloud-based solutions with logistics services built-in can centralize your team, allowing logistics managers access to all activities not only handled by an ERP but also relating to total product value management, that is: quality management (QMS), product lifecycle (PLM), and product information (PIM).
Modern industry solutions offer automation, a critical benefit for manufacturing companies looking to optimize their logistics systems. Automating processes increases the accuracy of the real-time data collected and allows your company to evolve in step with an ever-evolving market.
On top of increased efficiency, logistics activities are much more cost-effective when consolidated onto a single common platform. Total cost of ownership (TCO) goes from multiple disconnected platforms and all their associated costs, down to one single platform to pay for.
Finally, streamlined data flow allows for better decision-making—the meat and potatoes of logistics. With all of the processes that roll up into logistics management together in one platform, the larger picture is much more complete and much more accessible. Not to mention, being able to pull up related information to any logistics concern in seconds, instead of tracking it down in multiple places.
Digital transformation is a long-time focus for supply chain management, but it’s not happening fast enough. Single-platform with in-depth contextual collaboration is offered only through product value management (PVM), a cutting-edge approach for innovative product management. PVM streamlines logistics processes from the beginning of the supply chain to the final point of consumption.
Read more about the many roles of supply chain management in our comprehensive guide of supply chain job titles and descriptions.