The Oxford dictionary description of the word “logistics” is, of course, correct, but we can go a little further. In essence, logistics is the cost-effective management of cargo. Originally it was a military term, used for supplying troops with supplies and tools needed for their excursions. Logistics now refers to how things are moved and stored within a supply chain.
Logistics is concerned with moving resources, whether they are raw materials, finished products or even takeaway food. The movement and storage of goods is logistics. Warehouses, depots, road, sea, air and rail transport are the crucial elements of the logistics industry.
I suppose this all sounds very mediocre and boring, let’s take a look at some fun facts to try to brighten up the situation a bit.
The most shipped items are furniture, electronics, clothing and, of course, food. The logistics sector accounts for between 2% and 12% of global GDP. The global logistics sector is estimated to be worth between 8 and 12 trillion dollars.
Barcodes were originally used in transport, specifically on the railways. They were found on the sides of carriages for identification purposes, but it was not until 1974 that they reached supermarkets. Their success has meant that they are now used in almost all retail and logistics channels, as well as in many other industries.
We’re going to need a bigger ship
The largest ships in the world are capable of carrying the Eiffel Tower and an Airbus. Not only that, but they can sail comfortably and still have room for more. This requires a lot of fuel. The biggest cargo ships burn about 250 tonnes of fuel a day. If the shipping industry were a country, it would be the sixth biggest polluter.
You can get anywhere in the world using only transport channels and roads. Danish traveller Thor Pedersen has been travelling the world since 2013 without using a plane. He sends himself from port to port as a package, travelling practically for free, via cargo ships. Then, by road and rail, he intends to visit every country on the planet.
By April 2020, Thor had visited 194 of the 203 countries planned.
The Internet of Things
If you haven’t heard of IoT (Internet of Things) yet, you soon will. Technology plays an important role in logistics capabilities and the advances we have seen recently are due to IoT. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, for example, make it possible to track packages in real time and make their exact position available to all stakeholders.
The term IoT, or Internet of Things, therefore refers to the collective network of connected devices and the technology that facilitates communication between devices and the cloud, as well as between the devices themselves. Thanks to the advent of low-cost computer chips and high-bandwidth telecommunications, we now have billions of devices connected to the internet. This means that everyday devices such as toothbrushes, hoovers, cars and machines can use sensors to collect data and respond intelligently to users.
The Internet of Things integrates everyday “things” with the Internet. Computer engineers have been adding sensors and processors to everyday objects since the 1990s. However, progress was initially slow because the chips were large and bulky. Low-power computer chips called RFID tags were first used to track expensive equipment. As computing devices got smaller, these chips also got smaller, faster and smarter.
It would travel 800 kilometres
On average, a truck driver drives about 800 kilometres a day. That’s 2,500 a week and 125,000 a year. With some 7 million trucks on the world’s roads, the total distance is 875,000,000,000,000,000 miles, about 1/5 of a light year.
That would be about 6,000 times to the Sun and back, almost nothing…
Are you studying logistics? What is it about your future career that appeals to you? You haven’t made a bad choice, it’s one of the sectors with the best job opportunities.