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Contents of this Guide
The whole field of logistics is ever-changing. Of course, there is still agreement about the basic principle of a supply chain as 'the series of activities and organizations that materials - both tangible and intangible -- move through on their journeys from initial suppliers to final customers'. Then logistics -- or supply chain management -- becomes the function that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customers. But the way that managers control the movement and storage of materials has changed dramatically.
Not long ago, logistics would hardly be mentioned in the long-term plans of even major companies; now its strategic role is clear and virtually every organization recognizes that it can only succeed by improving the management of its supply chains. There are many reasons for this change.
Communications and information technology offer new opportunities and ways of working; despite recent economic problems, world trade continues to grow; new markets and sources of materials appear; costs of materials and operations change; new types of operations appear; customers become more demanding; there is increasing concern for the environment; and so on.
In response to these pressures for change, logistics managers have changed the way they work, forming a single integrated function that is responsible for all aspects of material movement and storage all the way from initial suppliers through to final customers. Within this function there are dominant trends towards globalization, e-business, improving communications, lean and agile strategies, environmental concern, risk management, customer satisfaction --- and all the other ideas that have become essential parts of logistics.
This guide discusses the latest developments in this dynamic business function. This new edition builds on the success of earlier editions and follows the same general format. It is not an encyclopedia of logistics that gives an exhaustive review of every aspect of a very broad subject.
Instead it is a forum in which a number of key issues are addressed. It focuses on areas that are of particular current interest, and emphasizes changes that have occurred in recent years.
The contributors are acknowledged experts in their fields with a wealth of experience and knowledge. Each gives an authoritative view of current thinking. Of course, this does not mean that they present the only view, and we hope that the material will encourage informed discussion.
The guide will appeal to everyone with an interest in logistics. This includes academics and students doing a variety of courses that have some logistics content. It also includes logistics professionals, consultants -- and managers from different backgrounds who want an appreciation of current thinking about the supply chain. It is important for all managers to realize the importance of logistics, the way that it crosses organizational and disciplinary boundaries -- and the way that it fundamentally affects the way that an organization works. The success of every organization depends on its ability to deliver products to customers -- and this is precisely the role of logistics. To put it simply, an organization cannot succeed without good logistics -- and if it does not get its supply chains sorted out, it may as well put the lights out and close the door.