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The History of Logistics Timeline

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Although the idea of improving process goes back centuries, the terms “logistics” and “supply chain management” are relatively new. A great infographic explains the history of process improvement in managing supply chains.

The graphic is courtesy of SCM Operations, and appears below:

consulting on infographic

Thanks to Ben with SCM Operations for providing this excellent infographic!


© Flickr user Peter Mooney

There’s a whole lot of information above, so we won’t break down all of it, but there are a few important points that are worthwhile to highlight. First of all, it’s good to define logistics and supply chain management. Merriam Webster provides a good definition for logistics.

Logistics: The things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people.

Supply Chain Management is adequately defined by Investopedia.

Supply Chain Management: Supply chain management is the streamlining of a business’ supply-side activities to maximize customer value and to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Supply chain management (SCM) represents an effort by suppliers to develop and implement supply chains that are as efficient and economical as possible. Supply chains cover everything from production, to product development, to the information systems needed to direct these undertakings.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s interesting to see how far back supply chain programs were put into place. The ideas of making a business run smoothly certainly isn’t a new idea, but Syracuse University clearly was ahead of their time by instituting such a program all the way back in 1919!

It’s no surprise that things really took off around the time that Henry Ford implemented the assembly line and mass production for his cars. It’s not a stretch at all to see how that one product led a new form of production for just about everything you can find in most major stores today. But there’s still a fairly big jump on the timeline from that event in 1927 until others started going beyond mass production in order to get more cerebral, and thus more efficient, when it came to finding ways to really hone in on a proper logistics scheme.

Once you get into the 1980s, the bullet points on the flowchart have fewer and fewer years between them. As with many industries, the growth of supply chain management and logistics was exponential. As more information was brought to light, more people became interested in that information and were able to build on it themselves. That got us to where we are today. A point where any large corporation who doesn’t have staff tasked with managing logistics and their supply chain is likely falling behind the curve.

When it comes to planning out your business strategy, it doesn’t matter if you’re a tiny company or a multi-million dollar corporation, finding the best way to manage and coordinate various activities is paramount to success. Streamlining your business can not only save you money, but it can keep your employees and customers much happier than they would have been otherwise. No employee worth their salt wants to feel as if their work isn’t contributing to the success of an organization, and we’ve discussed before how happiness can increase productivity.

This infographic is a great resource to see the history of these changes, but history doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you study it and learn from it. Looking at what has been done right in the past can help you continue to do things right in the future. For more information on how you can apply the best practices of logistics and supply chain management to your business, contact the consultants at AccelaWork today!

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