Shipping logistics is the process of delivering an item across the ocean by means of a ship. This delivery must be conscious of the difference in place and time between the point of production and the point of consumption. In the process, the cost of transportation between the two points should be reduced by considering all the factors at play and optimizing the process. The process should also maintain high standards of reliability, sustainability, and availability as required by the customer.
Effective logistics deals with various considerations that ensure nothing is overlooked. Prediction of the cost of future procurement must be in line with the needs of the present. Items that deteriorate need to be maintained even if not in use at present. However, the cost of maintenance and other variables will be lower at certain times. For instance, military equipment would cost less and would need less maintenance during peace times than during war. And yet there must be a certain amount of supplies maintained even during peace time, because too little supplies during war could be the factor that decides which side wins or outlasts the other.
But logistics is far more than a military issue. A huge variety of businesses in all industries around the world couldn’t function without logistics, with people increasingly looking to international suppliers and markets. Importing and exporting goods is a key application of logistics.
Another time shipping logistics become necessary is when batch sizes get smaller. The challenge is that a business must take care of the needs of each customer, regardless of the size of shipment that they have ordered. Simply put, this requires the proper management of resources. A deep understanding of supply chain management and physical distribution are necessary for success.
Logistics professionals are trained to manage all aspects of logistics management. Various institutions around the world offer professional courses and degrees to train future logisticians. Such professionals should be equipped with the skills to manage and control supply chains in various industries. They must be able to solve problems creatively on the spot and analyze events from a variety of perspectives. It’s an exciting and challenging field that attracts some of the world’s brightest minds, because it moves at a fast pace and uses analytical as well as creative thinking.
If your company lacks the necessary logistic ability, and does not employ logisticians on staff, you can outsource for logistical support from a logistics service provider. This can take the form of another company solely dedicated to planning and managing transportation from a supplier to a final destination. Such a company needs to have customized services with the ability to apply their expertise to wide range of industries. Or you can find a company that specializes and works only in your industry.
One form of outsourcing that is gaining popularity is third party logistics (3PL or TPL). A 3PL provider is a firm that will manage a customer’s supply chain, in whole or in part. Alternatively, you could opt for a fourth party logistics provider (4PLP), in which you can allow the logistics provider to handle all the logistics processes from the supplier to warehousing and the end user. The 4PLP would manage and coordinate the activities of the firms doing the 3PL work. Depending on the size of your business, one or both of these options may or may not make sense for you.