How has Logistics evolved over time?

Published by Ngoc Tran on

Development Process of Logistics-figure 1

Since the start in late 19th century, logistics has dramatically changed and become more crucial in business, under influence in supply chain integration, globalization, just-in-time (JIT) applications, and especially disruptive technologies. Development process of logistics from logistics 1.0 to logistics 4.0 is shown in Figure 1 above (adapted from Wang, 2016). Let’s have a look together at how logistics has developed through each phase!

Logistics 1.0 – Mechanization of Transport
Some theories indicate an earlier begin of logistics occurred during the first Industrial revolution. At that time, production shifted from human-power to machinery, which resulted in a much higher production rate. The major issue was the distribution of goods, which was solved by the use of steam engine in late 19th and early 20th century. Ships and trains were the main transport modes for moving goods and containers, thus replacing human and animals. Shortly after that, the capacity of transportation grew quickly marking the start of the Mass Transportation age.

Logistics 2.0 – Automation of Handling Systems
This stage was the result of the Automation of handling systems during the 1960s. One of the most outstanding inventions was electric power. Together with the mass production techniques, processes in the warehouses became automated: automated loading and unloading systems, and automated sorting systems. Therefore, the heaviest works could then be done by electrically driven machines.

Logistics 3.0 – System of Logistics
The stage of System of Logistics is believed to start in the 1980s when computers and Information Technology (IT) led the systemization of logistics activities and capabilities. Logistics management capabilities and automation led the creation of integrated IT systems, such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transport Management System. This period also saw several digital technology inventions, namely space shuttle, personal computer (PC), and graphic user interface.

Logistics 4.0 – Internet of Things (IoT) & Internet of Services (IoS)
IoT and IoS is now in its early stages, which is meant to connect digital technology. For example, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) which communicate with each other via the IoT, monitor physical processes, and make decentralized decisions within logistical processes. Data Mining (DM) explores the required knowledge to assist the decision-making process, while barcodes, radio frequency identification technology (RFID), sensors and global positioning systems (GPS) and used collectively for tracking and information processing. These advanced technologies have been widely applied in transportation, warehousing, distribution, packing, handling and related activities, resulting in increasing service level and reducing the overall costs. To illustrate this stage more clearly, below you can see an overview of some existing technologies categorized in their functions.
Table 1. An overview of important technologies of Logistics 4.0 (adapted from Glistau and Machado, 2018)

Important technologies of Logistics 4.0, table 1

There is no doubt that technology has significantly influenced our living in just a short period of time. Imagining if you can live without your phone one day – is that possible? Although things are still in its early stages, maybe somewhere on the earth an Industry 5.0 is sharpening its way? Then, the question is “What will be happening in Industry 5.0 as well as Logistics 5.0?

Thank you for reading and share if you know something that wasn’t mentioned! Learning is a lifelong process.

Recommended reading:

Wang, K. (2016). Logistics 4.0 Solution-New Challenges and Opportunities. In 6th International Workshop of Advanced Manufacturing and Automation. Atlantis Press.   

Glistau, E. & N.I. Coello Machado. (2018). Industry 4.0, logistics 4.0 and materials-Chances and solutions. In Materials Science Forum. Trans. Tech. Publications, 919: 307–314  

İyigün, İ., & Görçün, Ö. F. (2021). Logistics 4.0 and Future of Supply Chains.

Series Logistics 4.0

1 Comment

bcrc · 5 April 2022 at 6:44 pm

Interesting read about the evolution of logistics from logistics 1.0 to logistics 4.0

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