THE STRUCTURAL FORMULATION OF LOGISTICS
1. IntroductionSince the dawn of time we have been dealing with various actions taken by a man, associated with his functioning in conditions prevailing in his environment. These conditions by themselves do not secure the man’s survival, or his safety, or even his well-being. The man, while settling the most diverse environments, is not sufficiently equipped by nature to live and function therein in an efficient way. The man’s lack of something constitutes at the same time an obvious source of needs that have to be satisfied. In view of the aforementioned, the man needs, in order to carry on his activities, to be supplied with appropriate equipment.
Supply of various goods is a kind of activity which is traditionally attributed to logistics. However, its subject scope has ceased to be sufficient when it turned out in practice that for effective and efficient supply of goods it is useful to synchronize the cooperation of various business entities. Since modern products come into being as a result of extensive cooperation, and the finished product appears at the end of a lengthy way of various materials transformation. All these transformations are usually implemented by autonomous business entities and they consist in that it is impossible to demand any such cooperation from the said entities, only its terms and conditions can be agreed upon. This, in turn, extorts from enterprises the necessity to work together on a strategic level 6).
At the beginning of eighties logistics was defined as a process connecting sources of materials with final customers 4). Development of supply methods until now has led to occurrence of a possibility to influence the whole process of products manufacturing, starting even from the design up to making use of finished products. Owing to information technology, taking any activity within the framework of organizational structure covering this process is feasible both from inside and outside the structure. Also the territorial range of the implemented processes is practically unlimited 2). This could suggest that there is something greater than traditional logistics. That has lead to create a supply chain management as a new profession in the area of delivering goods 5). But discussions about supply chain management definition result sometime in polling on two propositions differentiating in “demand creation” 1). It shows how difficult is revealing the scope of activities by observing and analyzing sequences of events accompanying flows of goods in any circumstances. As well problem of logistic system integrity 3) was not sufficiently enlighten, to use technical and organizational means to deliver things that are needed.
Apart from this, it is necessary to take into account, in different ways, the role of the customer in the process of the supplied materials preparation. Because it turns out quite frequently that all the organizational effort associated with the supply process has got an indefinable, until the last moment, status, because of the willingness to satisfy the customer’s demands, declared in the definitions applied in logistics. Since it is impossible to avoid or prevent such a situation that the recognized needs might be changed either in the period of planning or implementing the supply process.
Thus it is not enough that given goods reach the end customer but what is meant here is that it is the customer, lacking specific goods that should be delivered to him, that must originate any logistic actions.
2. Derivation of the logistics scope
Instead of having arguments as for adding or deducting specific competencies to/from the goods supply process contractors, one might consider a question why there has emerged such a field of activity that so far has manifested itself in form of various activities associated e.g. with supplying military equipment to soldiers, raw materials and semi-finished products to warehouses, wholesale outlets and shops, or directly to the customer, and what such field of activity, in fact, consists in.
Whenever there is a need of supplying something, then a point of departure for any deliberations is the found lack of something, which is replenished by implementing supplies. Supplying a man with appropriate outfit consists in offsetting the said lack, preventing the man from correct functioning, with proper equipment. These may be things (e.g. food, clothes, tools, spaces etc.) but also non-material goods (e.g information, funds etc.). This name specifies all which is necessary for attaining balance between what the man has got at his disposal by nature and what is necessary for him.
The necessity to replenish the equipment can be considered in two ways: One applies to what the object under consideration is, in fact, and the other on what condition the said object exists. However, any theoretical transformations of these two aspects of existence, occurring during a mental process, are carried out with a view to re-harmonize them or even to consider them equivalent.
The essence of equipment is diverse assortment, of which the only things known are the properties that it should have in order to be that equipment. If shortages in outfit cannot be replenished otherwise than by supplying certain things, so there must be somewhere and available assortment of lacking goods (in reality or potentially). Therefore its existence manifests itself by possibility of moving, either assortment or its user, or in general terms – by mobility.
Therefore, the possibility of using assortment as equipment for implementing current objectives is conditioned by the possibility of moving with regard to the selected assortment in relation to place and time indicated by the recipient. Therefore, the possibility of equipping the man with outfit indispensable to him is based on existence of assortment of various articles being currently available, owing to the fact that there is possibility to secure efficient movement of these objects or their recipients. Being, however, an expression of the equipment duality, both the assortment and the mobility are abstract categories which must find their real expressions in reality.
The actual expression of assortment is the production sphere, where assortment is transformed from the virtual form into a real shape, currently available. On the grounds of these possible forms of the assortment occurrence, i.e. the finished product, semi-finished product, raw material, engineering project or conceptual design, the production of appropriate organization is necessary, so as the assortment (often of virtual nature) could be transformed into the assortment “just in time” when it is required by the recipient. So the assortment is perceived as a set of production tools, enabling the coming into being of concrete implementations of this assortment, so as it became currently available. A concrete specimen of a given assortment has to be produced, having had to be designed, or even invented, earlier.
Production must be based on standards so as the problem of designing could be separated from the production issue. On the one hand, production and organizational capabilities are prepared for specific design standards, and on the other hand – the designs are adapted to standard production capabilities.
Looking from a different perspective, mobility gets materialized as a set of various means of transport, permitting transfer of both the assortment produced and the recipients of goods. They occur as a real possibility of carrying out the relocation. These can be all kinds of technical arrangements enabling movement of people and things.
However, it is only the static picture of what is necessary for manufacturing and delivering the equipment. The dynamic aspect of production is the possibility of transferring material in particular production phases, which is traditionally defined as the internal transport, and in general terms it is the use of mechanization for implementing the production processes. Dynamics of means of transport, in turn, guaranteeing the possibility of using them for performing transportation tasks, is achieved by arranging them in the car park or a fleet. Means of transport, as a technical possibility of moving in space, must be reliable, so as their capabilities could be used for efficient movement of people or objects. At the same time, they must be organized into a structure enabling planned assignment of transport tasks. In view of impossibility to avoid damages there appears a question of the car park adaptability to carry out these tasks by means of vehicles.
On the basis of dynamics of the isolated components of equipment, there occurs a phenomenon of their mutual disharmony. It can be eliminated in two ways. One enables offsetting of the assortment predominance over mobility and it consists in storage of the manufactured products which, due to various reasons, cannot be delivered to the recipient. It can be a store of designs, semi-finished products, raw materials and finished products at different stages of distribution. The other, in turn, consists in eliminating the mobility predominance by producing the communication system permitting movement of something which is not placed where it is needed. This transport service system concerns all kinds of moving various objects in space in order to obtain their temporary co-occurrence at a given place.
The principal objective of logistic activities relating to the equipment supply is, however, implementation of a sequence of properly harmonized actions, when various forms of storage alternate with different forms of transportation, by which the indispensable equipment can be delivered to the user.
As a result, we obtain something that can be perceived as the supply process proceeding through subsequent phases and places on the way of moving, transforming streams of goods, that can be defined simply as the supply chain. At the same time the supply chain can be treated in two ways, firstly as a sequence of events and secondly, as a series of technical facilities.
In both cases the leadership in the management sphere is necessary in order to synchronize both the sequence of events and “cooperation” of facilities. Since other forms of management are useless here.
Considering the assortment and mobility equivalent in theoretical aspect, and considering the production and transport means equivalent in practice, leads, as a result, to the use of equipment, which, in order to fit out the man, has been manufactured and transferred by the logistics service provider harmonizing the duality of reality in the supply chain sequence.
The aforementioned deliberations are presented as structure of notions relating to logistics in figure left. Each of the components presented therein stands for a relevant, particular aspect of logistics, recognized and studied during many years of development of this field of activity until now.
This is accompanied by a fundamental problem, consisting in elimination of shortages and fitting out the man with equipment necessary for him, that the logistics service provider undertakes to solve. In an extreme case it may consist in removing effects of disasters caused by cataclysms and catastrophes, or eliminating hazards resulting from any changes in environment, and in general terms this will be a struggle against poverty in the world. This is a mission that everyone who decides on practising the trade of logistics service provider should be aware of.
Each of the notions presented in the structure above can be considered both in technical and in economic aspect. Since every action involves incurring some expenses and earning some incomes. However, what should be primary in relation to economic analyses, is implementation of objectives consisting in providing the man with necessary equipment. It may happen, however, that due to some economic reasons, certain actions are not feasible. It may result in endangering the principal mission of logistics, being the elimination of shortages in the man’s outfit.
1) Gibson B.J., Mentzer J.T., Cook R.L.: Supply chain management: the pursuit of a consensus definition, Journal of Business Logistics; 2005; vol. 26, 2; s. 17.
2) Mentzer T.J., DeWitt W., Keebler S.J., Min S., Nix W.N., Smith D.C., Zaharia G.Z.: Defining supply chain management. Journal of Business Logistics; 2001; vol. 22, 2; s. 1-25.
3) Oliver R.K., Webber M.D.: Supply-chain management: logistics catches up with strategy. Outlook, Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc., 1982 (w Christopher M. (editor), Logistics. The strategic issues. Chapman & Hall, 1992).
4) Rutkowski K.: Zarządzanie łańcuchem dostaw - próba sprecyzowania terminu i określenia związków z logistyką. Gospodarka Materiałowa i Logistyka, nr 12/2004 s.2-8.
5) Schechter D., Sander G.F.: Delivering the Goods: The Art of Managing Your Supply Chain, John Willey & Sons, 2002.
6) Waller A., 0'Sullivan D.: Supply chain in the boardroom. Logistics Europe, September 2004, s.22.
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