Last updated: February 21, 2019
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As defined by Suomeksi [1] “Logistics automation refers to a set of systems combining materials-handling systems, information systems and mobile monitoring systems used to support post-production stages, such as product-picking, packaging, palletizing, loading, labeling and monitoring”. Today there is great demand for speedy and efficient mobility of logistics operation and the logistics automation is the best tools to cope up with the demands of fast growing world. With the help of technological advancements, today the companies rely more and more on the logistic automation in order to reduce their cost of delivering packages [2] to improve the customer service and [3] to have a better cash flow. Logistic automation has added to the [4] efficiency and speed of delivering packages and reduces the staff requirement and labor cost.  There are many areas where the logistics automation has proved to be an effective way to carry on several activities and this system is also gaining much importance in global perspective.

The logistics system is much benefited with the invention of several information technology techniques. The mechanical devices have modified the system and enable it to meet the challenges of modern world. The logistics automation system consists of various hardware and software components. These components include [5] fixed machinery like automated cranes, Conveyors, Sorting systems, Industrial Robots; Mobile technology like radio data terminals and variety of software including Integration software, Operational control software, Business Control software.

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The logistics departments of different organizations work to assure swift supply of packages by utilizing cost effective processes and structures. There is a specific criterion to evaluate the performance of any logistics systems and some parameters are set by the experts to judge the efficiency of logistics system. These parameters are [6] “Delivery reliability, Flexibility and reaction speed, Logistical performance quality, Constant optimization of supply processes”.

By virtue of modern technologies, many activities of people are spreading across the globe. In the 21st century the logistics system touches each and every aspect of companies operations and performs several functions for them. As the business activities have increased the global logistics activities also increase because many businesses depend on foreign countries in order to acquire raw material for manufacturing products and then to supply finished goods to other countries. The whole process [7] of binding together the geographically distant sources manufacturers and markets, largely depend upon logistics.

The function of logistics automation for the business related activities surrounds around managing the flow of raw material to companies and then supply of finished good to the customers. This process of logistics is divided in to two segments. The first one is the [8] “inbound logistics” which involves the supply of raw material and other things to the companies so that they can conduct their business of manufacturing certain goods and products. The second segment of logistics is “outbound automation” which is the process that makes the finished product available in the hands of customers for usage. In this way logistics automation help a lot in the process of manufacturing business.

Logistics automation system is also a vital tool that supports the Army to move faster and faster because the system assure the prompt availability of essential resources to the soldiers and assists them in winning their warfare. There are [5] six main logistics functional areas. These are “Supply, Maintenance, Transportation, Civil Engineering, Health Services, and other services like Personnel Administration, Finance, and Food Service etc”.

Computer Internet and other innovative technologies have transfigured the way of doing businesses all around the world. The logistics system has also gone through some revolutionary changes during the last few decades. The advancement in the technology has blessed the logistic system very much and the contribution of different machinery and software in the logistics has made the system more efficient and more competent. [3] Global markets are growing more complex giving boost to logistics system. The technological advancement is allowing the logistics systems to become more dependable that all over the world businessmen relying upon the logistics, made several minute-to-minute/second-to-second decisions (Simon Thompson, 2006) and then execute these decisions with the support of logistics system.

The large and more complex logistics operation become possible with the assistance of several mechanical devices and software that’s why there is increasing trend towards the use of automation in logistics. The logistics automation has not maximized the efficiency of the system but it has also presented a degree of standardization to the logistics system (Simon Thompson, 2006). Now the professionals involve in the logistics process have recognized the value of information about any package equals to the contents. There is growing awareness about [3] the use of automation in logistics in order to save the cost as well as to drive other competitive advantages. The automation has gifted several benefits and opportunities to logistics, some of them are as followed

·         Logistics automation has enabled the operators to establish a system called [2] “Customer Support Management” or “Order Management system. This system is meant for informing the customers about the shipping, carriage and package identification number so that they can track their packages.

·         Another system called [2] “Accounting System” is also established with the help of logistics automation. It helps in several logistics related activities. This system is used the information about the shipping cost and “make the easily reconcile career invoices, allocate shipping and mailing charges to cost centers, and expedite customer billing”.

·         “Warehouse Management System” [2] is also built in order to notify that a specific package is moved for shipping. In this way there is possibility of keeping accurate record about the inventory control.

So we can sum up with the conclusion that the technological advancements have added several benefits to the logistics system and has made it more efficient and prompt. The logistics automation could be used for [9] “Automating shipment processing, integrating logistics data into the enterprise and re-engineering supply chains”. As a result of all these activities there could be betterment in the customer service, companies can manage better cash flow and also there could be massive reduction in the capital assets.

The geographical distances are minimizing rapidly and there is massive increase in the global business activities. This growth has also given momentum to the logistics because [7] now the companies need logistics more and more for conducting various activities relating to their business. For example a manufacturing firm requires logistics for getting the raw material from different part of the world. [7] Sound system of logistics aided by the logistics automation help these companies in building a network for getting the raw material. The role of logistics didn’t stops here but when the finished goods are prepared by the manufactures then the logistics system again helps these companies to access global market and sale for these products. The logistics system proved to be a helpful tool of managing business at international level and in this way the global importance of the logistics system and logistics automation could be recognized very well.

The reduction in the global trade barriers has resulted in increase of competition between different companies at global level. Now almost all the companies are [3] concentrating on formulating strategies that can help them to conduct their business at international level in more effective way.  This situation has highlighted the role of efficient logistics system. The companies have to reply on the logistics system for proper import and exports of their products. Timeliness is an important factor of global logistics and it favors a healthy competition among different companies. The global trade competition is much supported and conducted with the help of logistics system and it also enables the companies to satisfy the demand of their customer worldwide.

The tools of logistics automation for conducting the global operation are oceans and airways. However [5] other transportation system like railways and motorways is also used by the operators of logistics for operating their system with the bordering countries. At global level the logistics automation plays an important role because [9] it assures the supply of packages to geographically distant destinations with the help of advanced technologies like fastest air and marine transportation etc. While operating the business at international level the operators of logistics have to reply on the intermediaries very much. The primary intermediaries for global logistics system are “foreign freight forwarders, airfreight forwarders, non-vessel-operating common carriers, customs house brokers, and export management companies” (Coyle, 2003).

The emergence of logistics and logistics automation at global level has given birth to several concerns about the operational efficiency of the logistics system. Now the managers of the logistics focus more on the [10] strategic interests rather then the elemental activities in order to attain the corporate objectives with the help of effective logistics management. The governments are also playing their parts in the situation and the governments of many counties are focusing on the world competition. In order to grab a considerable share in the profits of global logistics activities the governments are formulating such policies that promote the logistics automation and can result in better performance of the system.

As discussed above the Logistics automation is getting momentum with the rise in global activities. This growth also raised several questions related to the logistics automation. At present there are some very [5] notable problems associated with the logistics automation. It is very necessary that the system runs smoothly and there would be little interruptions but delay in the delivery of certain package harms the credibility of the system very much. The logistics system faces the problem of delay in the delivery due to several factors. For example if the documents and license of the package is found inadequate then its delivery is delays until it is verified by the concerned authority. The logistics automation comprises of modern machinery and system. Such systems require proper labeling, marking and packaging of the goods otherwise the package does not go through the equipment. Sometimes due to lack of awareness about the demands of different machinery and checking system the packages didn’t meet the demands of the system and their delivery is delayed due to improper packaging, marking and labeling.
Another problem faced by the logistics automation is the high cost of delivering packages. [11] The advanced technological devices are utilized in the system and they reduce the time of delivery but at the same time there is rise in the cost of logistics because the expenditure increase in buying and then maintaining the computers or other modern devices. This expenditure affects the cost of delivering goods very much

The above discussion highlighted the important roles and function that the logistics automation plays for different sectors. It is also clear from the above discussion that successful global operation either relating to business activities or military activities largely depend upon the efficient system of logistics. [11] The advancement of technologies has resulted in the creation of logistics automation, which has boosted the system very much and has made it more efficient and prompt. The situation required sound management practice of logistics system all over the world because many activities are depending upon the logistics system.
References

 

[1] Suomeksi, “Logistics Investments Justified by Appropriate Analyses”, 2006

http://www.donesolutions.com/English/Logistics/Index.html Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[2] Mary Ann Falkman, Logistics automation pays big dividends at Blair, 2005

http://www.packagingdigest.com/articles/200702/39.php Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[3] Terry Mosbaugh, Logistics Automation: The Last Frontier in Enterprise Computing, 2001

http://www.computerworld.com/ Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[4] Simon Thompson, “The application of artificial intelligence to commerce”, 2006

http://humanitieslab.stanford.edu/2/217 Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[5] Wallace, Jacqueline L., “Improving logistics automation support”, 2005

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-132839914.html?refid=ency_MALT Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[6] Siemens VDO Automotive AG, Principles of Logistics, Supplier Guide, 2001

 

[7] Coyle, “The Management of Business Logistics: A Supply Chain Perspective,” Chapter 5: Global Logistics, 2003

 

[8] Jeffrey P. Graham, Logistics: Vital to Every Business, the Gateway Newsletter at Trade Compass, Issue April 2004

 

[9] Timmers, Christopher B., Delivering the Goods – The Art of Managing Your Supply Chain (Book Review), Infantry Magazine, 2003

 

[10] Peter Gilmour, Helen Driva, Robert A. Hunt, Future directions for logistics in Australia, 1995

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do?contentType=Article&hdAction=lnkhtml&contentId=846556 Accessed June 19, 2007

 

[11] Amy Roach Partridge, Global Logistics, 2006

http://www.inboundlogistics.com/articles/global/global0406.shtml Accessed June 19, 2007