Logistics Day: do you know its origin?

  • 20/06/2024
  • 25 minutes

It is very difficult to think about what the world would be like without logistics. After all, it is the techniques and processes of this sector that allow commercial interactions to happen in the way we know today. Logistics Day reinforces the importance of this area, but not everyone knows how this date originated.

Therefore, we prepared this article to explain a little about the history of logistics, the origin of June 6, how logistics fits into the current context and trends for this sector. Keep reading!

What is Logistics?

Logistics is a set of techniques, processes and activities aimed at the storage, movement and distribution of materials and goods. Its function is to ensure that there are good conditions for the execution of production processes and that products go through all essential stages in the company, to reach the final customer in optimal conditions and within the correct timeframe.

That’s why logistics is a complex and versatile area. After all, it is structured in the way that best meets the needs and demands of each company. Their techniques can be adapted to different realities in order to achieve maximum efficiency in the processes.

It is worth mentioning that logistics can also be used based on different methodologies and divided into a variety of steps, according to the company that is practicing it. Thinking about e-commerce, for example, logistics mainly involves the process of sending products purchased over the internet.

However, in the food industry, it covers all the procurement and storage of raw materials, the organization of the space where they are housed, the ideal conditions for this to happen so as not to generate losses. The logistics process also includes the movement of these materials within the company itself, their storage, transportation, distribution, among other details.

Logistics is even involved in hosting an event or a show. Consider that it is necessary to think about all the necessary structure, the professionals who will perform or participate, the audience that will attend, safety issues, structure, and so on.

Logistics is present even in the daily lives of ordinary people. This is because it is necessary to organize your own routine, control the pantry of the house, plan a weekend outing or a trip.

Therefore, logistics is part of each of us, even in small activities. Today, this is the sector that moves the world and allows us to have the current standard and quality of life.

The world before logistics

Thinking about a world before logistics is very difficult because it has existed since the dawn of civilizations. When agriculture began to be practiced, there was an increase in the availability of food, but together there was a need to adopt methods to store the grains. That’s how people started practicing logistics without even realizing they were doing it.

With the emergence of vessels and the evolution of land transport, people also began to maintain commercial relations with each other. Goods were transported between villages, cities and regions in order to make exchanges.

Subsequently, with cartography techniques, these business relationships became even more robust and complex. Nations won the seas and crossed the lines of the continents, taking their goods to even more distant locations. In this way, storage techniques, vessel organization and route planning were increasingly improved.

Logistics and war

It is indisputable that wars are great tragedies for humanity. However, they also mark advances, and this is because conflicts lead to mass needs, which require rapid changes, adjustments and improvements.

That is why logistics has always been very present in times of war. It was also in this context that the Logistics Day originated, but we will talk about it later.

During World War I, logistics began to be considered a key part of resource handling. It started to be applied with the aim of stockpiling materials, food, equipment, and weaponry, as well as their distribution; mapping the locations and regions where troops should go was another relevant application.

That is, it was through logistics that the entire structure was organized in a strategic way to maintain the troops and win the conflicts. After World War II, there was another milestone in the evolution of logistics. It ceased to be focused only on military strategies and began to integrate de facto commercial relations.

However, at that time, the main objective was to find distribution channels, in order to make the products and goods reach the customers with the least degree of risk.

The desired outcomes were production efficiency, as well as customer experience and satisfaction. At that time, there were no major investments in logistics, since its low cost was what enabled greater gains for companies.

One curiosity is that the word “logistics” comes from Ancient Greece, when the term logistikas was used to refer to calculation and mathematical reasoning. This is why the military was responsible for accounting and distributing supplies — including, during battles and conflicts, they began to be called logistikos.

Commerce driving logistics

From the 1970s onwards, trade began to undergo a great evolution. There was an increase in the diversity of products for the consumer and, due to this greater demand, the need arose to improve the logistics model adopted to meet the contemporary needs of commerce.

The operational focus was no longer enough to make the company stand out amid fiercer competition. This is how the logistics sector gained a little more attention, both in the organization and control of inventory, and in the communication of this department with other areas of the company.

There was also a greater integration of processes, among other changes aimed at promoting a better structuring of operations. With the advancement of technology, the logistics sector made even greater gains and managed to reach the level we are at today.

What happened on logistics D-day?

We explain in the introduction that June 6 is considered Logistics Day. We also said that there is a relationship between that date and the war. Now, you’ll understand why.

Logistics Day is related to June 6, 1944, which was called D-Day, when Operation Neptune took place in a coastal region of France, Normandy.

At that time, France was taken over by the Nazis. The Allied countries began to devise a plan to turn the tide and gain a strategic advantage that could lead to the end of the war, with the defeat of the Nazis.

For this, they planned for a year the invasion of Normandy. American, Canadian, British and French troops participated in this major operation to stop the Nazi advance on the Western Front. This was because the Eastern Front was already protected by the Soviet army, which had managed to stop the advance of Nazism there.

The logistics of D-Day

It may seem strange that a war event today is associated with Logistics Day. However, when we understand the story behind it, we can see the great logistical work that was done to make Operation Neptune successful.

Different nations participated in this event. The allies mobilized 10,000 land vehicles, 7,000 vessels and 156,000 military personnel. Of this total, 24,000 were paratroopers who had the mission to descend on the French beaches.

That is why this logistical operation was so symbolic and striking in history. Operation Neptune was a highly complex strategy due to the deployment of troops, defense, positioning, time and resistance, which are already aspects inherent to combat and war conflicts.

However, as there would be the descent of paratroopers, this plan needed to consider other difficulties, such as atmospheric variables. They were in fact an impediment to the operation happening at the planned time. Because of these variables, the plan was delayed by 24 hours.

The problem was that the allied forces needed weather, sea, and astronomical conditions to all be conducive to increasing the chances of success. Therefore, the initial conditions of the plan should be respected.

The 24-hour delay disrupted the entire strategy dynamic, which is why Operation Neptune was delayed for a few more weeks. After all, it was necessary to ensure all the conditions for the invasion to begin.

The postponement required strategic readjustments, as well as a lot of flexibility on the part of the commanders. At the same time, the situation left room for the Nazis to strengthen and prepare for an invasion — just what happened.

Nevertheless, the Allied forces were very successful and, on June 6, they invaded Normandy. Logistics were instrumental in causing this turnaround in the course of the war, as the events of D-Day ultimately destabilized the Nazi forces and led to their defeat the following year.

Losses and casualties happened on both sides, but from D-Day the Allied forces managed to advance through the territories controlled by the Nazis. The Germans were cornered and the city of Paris was liberated, thus changing the course of the War. The victory was made possible thanks to the great logistics planning carried out by the allied forces.

Logistics in the current context

You saw that, from the 1970s, due to the evolution of trade, there was a transformation in logistical methods. It was also during this phase that advances in the area of computing and the introduction of this technology in the industry took place.

A few years later, technological resources began to become part of the logistics industry. This transformation strengthened the relationship with the customer, allowed a more efficient exchange of information between systems and led to a standardization of this communication. Barcodes and other advances have also emerged.

It was during this phase that companies realized that operational efficiency was no longer enough to ensure their success; the need of customers was also at the center of logistics, being fundamental for the smooth running of business. Thus, the search for low prices was replaced by a focus on the quality of the services provided, an aspect that still permeates the current logistics.

The moment we are living is marked by a high availability of technologies to apply in the logistics sector. The integration between all parts of logistics was increasingly prioritized and became very efficient, enabling greater fluidity in processes, more efficient controls, greater productivity, agility, as well as the reduction of errors and costs.

The use of management systems has brought a new reality to logistics. These technologies multiplied the possibilities of interaction in the same environment and allowed to automate most of the operations of the logistics process.

Along with all these changes, new practices and concepts have emerged that make up current logistics, such as the outsourcing of services and the emergence of reverse logistics. There was also an expansion of the strategic vision, placing logistics as part of a large chain, which we know today as the supply chain.

With this concept, all parties involved in the chain were considered, directly or indirectly, from the manufacture of the product to its arrival in the hands of the customer. The supply chain involves not only the logistics processes themselves, but everything that precedes them and is subsequent to them.

It is a much broader vision, which enables a much more robust and complex strategy for companies, aiming at business advantages and a better relationship with the customer. After all, the supply chain considers the flow from end to end and provides greater logistics efficiency.

Trends in logistics

You learned a little more about the beginnings of logistics processes and got to know the origin of Logistics Day. We also talked about the current industry context. Given this, we must not forget to look to the future of logistics.

With the intense and rapid transformation that the technology sector is undergoing, there is a significant impact on logistics. This causes new trends to emerge, which need to be known so that processes continue to be improved in order to achieve excellence.

This is Logistics 4.0, which is part of the information age, marked by connectivity and large volume of data, in addition to the digitization of processes, integration between systems and automation of tasks. Therefore, three major trends deserve to be highlighted in this sector. Keep reading to find out more.

Process Automation 

Automation is considered one of the pillars of Logistics 4.0. Its main goal, as you may have noticed, is to eliminate the human factor from repetitive activities and tasks, so that professionals can focus their attention on more strategic tasks.

In process automation, systems and tools are used that perform functions such as issuing documents and checking items automatically. This allows greater agility in the completion of each step, in addition to giving more fluidity to the processes, without a professional having to be responsible for all the tasks.

There is also the expectation that automation will be applied in driving vehicles. In economic terms, this change would make it possible to reduce transportation and maintenance costs, for example. In fact, the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) already allows drones to make deliveries in Brazil.

Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and new technologies

The most modern technologies that make up the concept of Industry 4.0 also apply to logistics. Some examples are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). As in other industries, these technological advances hold the promise of revolutionizing logistics.

Through these resources, it is possible, for example, to carry out the best fleet monitoring, to make inventory control much more efficient, to optimize step tracking and, finally, to increase the predictability of the operation. All this because these technologies have a high degree of accuracy and reduce the possibility of error, making logistics increasingly efficient.

In inventory control, Artificial Intelligence goes beyond making a detailed count of stored items. It can relate inventory numbers to demand information in order to make storage management more efficient and predictive, avoiding waste or too many stalled items.

The association of Artificial Intelligence with Big Data also makes it possible to do other predictive analyzes in order to adopt actions and strategies to minimize risks and increase efficiency. Even routes can be optimized using these two technologies.

We also have the possibility to use sensors in delivery trucks, which can present consumption data, vehicle maintenance, road status and weather information, in order to propose solutions based on historical analysis.

The application of Big Data is also very useful for outsourced companies, allowing companies to process data in a much larger volume, with more speed and greater accuracy. In this way, it is a technology that makes process automation even more efficient.

Sustainability and ESG

Sustainability is a topic that is not only in the future of logistics. In fact, it is already a reality in this sector. This is because sustainable practices can make a great contribution to the preservation of the environment.

The subject takes on special importance when we talk about means of transport, for example, since they are one of the main responsible for carbon dioxide emissions  in the atmosphere. Therefore, the adoption of more sustainable measures in logistics can significantly reduce the environmental impact.

Among the sustainable solutions  is the replacement of fossil energies with electrical sources, such as those obtained through solar panels and wind farms. Biofuel is also a more sustainable solution.

The adequacy of the energy matrix can happen in the industry itself; and not only in the means of transport that involve logistics. Thus, it is possible to further reduce the emission of polluting gases.

Another sustainable trend is reverse logistics, which aims to collect and return solid waste for reuse. With this, it is possible to minimize the amount of solid waste discarded into the environment, as well as to give an adequate destination to those with greater polluting and contaminating potential.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) practices are also present in logistics. They are a strong trend not only due to the environment, but as a great differential for the processes themselves.

The adoption of ESG aims at a more responsible action, which reduces the environmental footprint, involves practices that respect society and considers measures aimed at achieving more efficient governance.

A management focused on ESG principles is directly related to sustainability, since it favors the adaptation of processes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), meeting the 2030 agenda.

But thinking about business character, ESG-based management adds value to the company. It makes the brand more attractive to investors and meets the expectations of consumers, who are increasingly aware of sustainable practices.

Therefore, organizations in the logistics sector tend to have an increasing focus on environmental issues and ESG-based management. This can generate great partnerships, favoring their image in the market and their competitiveness.

It is interesting to see how the logistics sector has evolved over time, as well as to know the relationship of Logistics Day with military strategies. Logistics remains a strategic area, fundamental to the operation of companies. Technological innovations are inserted as great allies for an increasingly efficient performance.

Did you like this content? So, take the opportunity to get to know the Wilson Sons podcast and check out debates on several interesting topics for logistics professionals.