Logistics management as the governance supply sequence functions as gone under some transformations in the recent past. The activities involved in the logistics management like; outbound and inbound fleet management, inventory management, materials handling, warehousing, transportation management, order fulfillment, supply/demand planning, logistics network design, and management of other logistics service and product providers, has also grown and led to adoption of new ICT systems. These logistics functions do include; packaging and assembly, sourcing and procurement, customer service, scheduling and production planning. The functions have seen the use of ICT systems like GIS, GPS, Warehouse Management Systems, Transport Management Systems, among others. The systems have helped in execution and planning all parts of the logistics management from the tactical, operational to strategic parts. In addition, the systems have helped in integrating the functions which coordinates all the logistics activities. The other functions of finance, sales manufacturing, marketing, and information technology, have also improved. This has helped the way companies manage the supply chain. The paper will try to evaluate the key components of logistics management. In addition, the major ICT systems in the logistics plus their benefits and challenges in adopting an applying the technology will be analyzed.
Operations Management and Logistics
In any organization, operations are the base of functions. This is whether the company is a nonprofit or service industry or manufacturing. The operations management and logistics involves various disciplines like; human resource management, quality management, product development, logistics, and information technology. The operations of the company encompass the performance management of the building or design engineers in delivery performance, prediction of production, and quality-feedback loops. Moreover, the plan of the information architectures and supply chain management are also included in the operations management. There are both the practical and theoretical techniques and tools of management operations. These entail the analysis of operational performance of companies and explaining them in according to quality, time, and cost. In addition, the performance improvement is considered by redesigning new business processes (Tomaz, 2011, p. 1136).
The main aim of operations and logistics management are to create suitable services and goods. This should be, in accurate quantity and quality and, to distribute them at the correct time and place. This leads to a considerable contribution in the operations of the organization. The operations and logistics management in a business set up includes; management, implementation, and design of systems, for the efficient use raw materials, personnel, finished goods, physical facilities, information, process inventories, products or services. This encompasses the entire supply chain that runs from acquirement of raw materials, production stage, to consumption point. The management of logistics and operations needs the knowledge of computers, quantitative models, and effective communication. The objectives and goals of logistics and operations management are to move gods, products, and services from the manufacturer, to the consumer through the supply chain. This should move at the right time and place (Abrahamsson, 2004, p. 96). This is the reason why the logistics managers have a significant role to play in liaising with the retailers, manufacturers, customers, and suppliers.
The manager of a logistics company has various roles. These duties can include; warehousing, stock control, transportation, and monitoring, the flow of materials and goods. In addition, the day to day running of activities and making sure that cost, quality, and the supply chain is efficient and meets the right standards are the duties of a logistics manager. The job needs skills like; providing leadership, monitoring stock, keeping records, relating with suppliers and customers, managing receipts, and dispatch and storage of goods. In addition, strong organizational and leadership skills are required for the job. This is because quick decisions are expected in the supply chain.
ICT and Supply Chain Management
There is a relationship between ICT and supply chain management. This relationship has led to various studies and academic research. However, the discussion of the relationship has been fragmented and limited. There are components of ICT that are related to the supply chain management. In addition, there are also some interrelation between the supply chain management and ICT. This is in the leading applications and components of the ICT systems. The e-SCM is a new technology in management in relation to ICT (Ilia, Elmazi & Bazini, 2011, p. 35). The supply chain management has seen the rise of the electronic supply chain management that has different components. This has given rise to opportunities for firms. The components have enhanced and improved the operations of firms that have employed the use of e-SCM.
Managing of the supply chain has changed tremendously over the years. The supply chain involved the use of manual tracking systems, face to face management, wired communication links, paper dominated order processing systems. These were the management tools and ways in which the logistics managers operated initially. These tools and techniques have become obsolete over the past years. The tools and systems have given way to more developed systems and methods. Many nations have adopted the use of the modern systems in their supply chain management methods. The firms in these countries have successfully experimented with the knowledge management and supply chain networks (Rudberg & Olhager, 2003). The experience has led to the adoption of the new systems that incorporate the use of ICT. The new methods have been used in the supply chains, in governments and business sector. This has made supply chain management gain much significance in the marketing field. This has made SCM become a vital marketing process that has an affirmative sway on the shareholder value.
The supply chain networks, however, are becoming more complex. This is because of the global imbalance in the labor market. These costs force the firms to source from other countries that have cheaper labor. This is to help the firms to control their production costs so as to remain competitive in the market. The other reason as to why the SCN are becoming more complex is because of customers and consumers of products and services of various firms. They are increasingly becoming more sophisticated. The customers are demanding more customized products, in the markets. They want services, products, and goods that can better meet their various needs. The product variations in the market make the demand forecasting even trickier. The firms are made to predict on both the option mix and volumes. This is instead of the solitary demand model that they were accustomed in the production of products for customers. Moreover, the increased various product types have resulted, into a larger number of manufacturers and suppliers, to administer higher harmonization costs. This has made the firms that are in the same supply chain, to coordinate with each other, so as, to optimize their processes.
The complex network of warehouses, suppliers, factories, and distribution and retail centers, make the success of the SCMs to be difficult. This calls for better management of the system components in order to succeed in the complex networks. The success has called for the coming of information in the chain. This has made information become the main player in recent years in shaping the efficiency of a multifaceted enterprise (Shavazi, Abzari & Mohammadzadeh, 2009, p. 2072). The aptitude of a business to route information and make quick, but, the correct decisions are the key to a promised growth. Therefore, it has become essential to estimate and forecast the supply and demand of the unprocessed materials. This is from the point of sale locations and reorganizing the structure of business where it is needed. An organization needs to integrate both the material flow and information so as to realize the objectives and goals of a system. The integration can make the system be, in a position, to provide access to information, execute, and help in decision making processes.
The significance of ICT in operations and logistics management has seen the increase of capital spending in information and communication technology in many countries. This is because the impact of ICT has been felt in the different sectors of the economy. The effect has been seen from the conceptual models that have been undertaken. The empirical ground models are the ones that have been presented so far. These studies have indicated that ICT has a significant and positive impact on the economic growth and labor productivity. ICT is expected to maintain to have a fundamental part in the management of the supply chains in the future. The use of ICT is more significant in fast moving industries, more so, in managing the modern supply networks. Furthermore, the relationship of the ICT and SCM makes it difficult to determine the one that contributes and has more benefits than the other. This can be shown by the example of implementing the VMI6-model with the EDI7-information transmission that can lead to a considerable reduction of inventories. In addition, the implementation of the scheme leads to an augment in the material accessibility. The question is to determine if the benefits can be achieved without the use of EDI. For example, the exchange of the information by use of fax has effects. The other option is if it is possible to exchange of the information using another method. He considerations of the benefits and impacts of ICT should be done with most favorable situations and recording the results.
Transport and Logistics Services
The high quality availability of transport and logistics services (TLS) has improved management of supply chain. This has become a significant aspect in the competitiveness and growth of the economy. There are impacts and barriers that are involved in the information and communication (ICT), in logistics and transport services. This affects the users of the ICT logistics. In addition, there are several types of ICT use, application areas, future and barriers of application of the ICT use. The ICT systems have been useful in improving the systems of transportation in the supply chain. This calls for further investing for firms that use the logistics and transport in their services. The focus and evaluation should entail new technologies, which will streamline the processes further. The systems should allow for the sharing of information with partners in the same supply chain. In addition, the systems should add more and deliver value to employees, customers, and shareholders.
The flow of services and goods between the manufacturers and customers should be improved by the use of new ICT systems. The integration of transport, information, warehousing, packaging, material handling, inventory, and security is enhanced by use of ICT systems. The systems add value to the logistics channel part of the supply chain. They help in utilizing the time and space used in the supply chain. Furthermore, the systems help in solving some of the complexities involved in the production logistics. They model, visualize, analyze, and optimize the supply chain by use of simulation software’s (Kiisler, 2008, p. 372). The logistics and transport services are a significant component of a flourishing economy. They enable the movement of services, people, and goods efficiently. These components should arrive at the right destinations at the right time and retained in the right quality and quantity. This should happen as they respect the levels of service that are involved in the process.
ICT systems are significant in managing TLS organizations. This is because the firms need to manage their information efficiently and effectively in order to integrate various activities. The activities involved include; warehousing, distribution, fleet management, outbound and inbound transportation. This should be managed effectively so as to streamline the physical flow of services and products to consumers. ICT systems help in having the precise information, at the exact place, and at the correct instance. This is significant in the paradigm of physical goods and services. The systems give equal application in the administration of information. The TLS companies can employ the use of e-business technology in their businesses. This will help in enhancing their productivity and efficiency. In addition, an integrated approach in developed. This links the transport modes in more innovative methods. In the end, there is an enhancement in the value of services that are offered.
The ICT logistics users in different firms across the world acknowledge the significant of the systems in their services. The impact and barriers of the information and communication (ICT) in their operations is significant. The systems developed have increased the efficiency of logistics and transport components in their firms. The transport facilitation involves the harmonization, simplification, and standardization of the international transport methods to realize proficient trading networks. In addition, the transport procedures are automated, and their fundamental operational activities are incorporated in the ICT system (Harland & Lamming, 2001, p. 23).
The integration of ICT in logistics and transport is a significant exploit in achieving accuracy, reliable, speedy flow, and cost reduction of the information and goods. The companies that are involved in transport and logistics services, therefore; need to invest more in new technologies. These will help the firms to streamline their services and processes, by allowing the sharing of information with the associates in the supply chain. In addition, the systems help in adding more value to the shareholders, employees, and customers services. The impacts of ICT are significant in the benefits and cost areas.
The conventional ways of managing the supply chain have transformed over the years. The systems that have been in place like; face to face management, paper dominated order processing systems, manual tracking systems, and wired communications are changing. These are the tools that the supply chain managers have been using. This has changed to new systems like extranet and intranet, e-business, e-procurement, electronic internet marketing, and the use of internet in the administration the supply chains. The digitization and information technology has impacts on supply chain and their management. The various aspects and components of ICT have effect on the varied parts of the SCM. The managers are provided with ideas on how ICT can be used and employed in the improvement of the management supply chain systems. In addition, the internet growth has provided the supply chains with various significant opportunities in service improvements and cost reduction. Furthermore, the internet gives access to knowledge and information in an inexpensive and faster way. However, the internet alone is not enough in ensuring efficiency and responsiveness. In achieving success, the supply chain should be designed to achieve an efficient flow of products. The electronic supply chain management has the opportunity for future and, hence firms should take advantage of the opportunities presented. The observations that have been made in theory and practical studies give varied operations and strategies in different tracks, in different directions (Storey, 2006, p. 276). Organizations that have with active business environments with additional marketing channels, heavier market segments, high pressure on profit margins, increased globalization on supplier and customer side, results to competitive weakness. The improvement of the industrial distribution, dynamic challenges, and management of the interaction between market operations and strategies should be employed in the dynamic business environment. The theories in the market logistics, strategies, flexibility, and…