‘Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers or corporations.’ – Wikipedia
Well, that is a very diplomatic and juiceless way of describing logistics, it almost hurts. It requires a bit more effort and imagination to put that vibrant picture into words. Hundreds of busy people who can gain or lose in seconds, making thousands of phone calls, writing millions of emails and using uncountable numbers of resources to get things done. And all that, usually repeated several times during one shipment. As circumstances seem to change before you finish the last call, Murphy’s law should be actually called ‘the law of freight’.
Taking all that into consideration, the above description given by Wikipedia needs some updating. And although Wikipedia itself doesn’t really match with our perception of a relevant and trustful information source, it’s understanding of logistics, unfortunately, matches perfectly with what some tech-focused entrepreneurs seem to think.
As we can imagine some smart AI technology ‘managing the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption’, we need to stop ourselves laughing at how it would soothe a docker’s upset stomach, or rescue important documents deluged with coffee from a broken paper cup in the warehouse, or any other ‘sophisticated’ issues that can happen in any part of the chain.
And the chain of shipping logistics is not a short one, nor an easy one. And most definitely, it is less binary. Here not only can you experience numbers other than 1 and 0, but you can also expect digits that have not yet been created, and yes, you better have some backup plan for it.
In shipping, digital schedule and excel charts matter, but other things matter more. Information is the very base of the process – it is what you begin with. And at this point, we appreciate all the helpful tools that tech-savvy influencers propose. But the deeper you get to logistics, the more you appreciate your human senses; ability to react spontaneously, experience enriched by many successes, and more importantly failures, your common sense, that helps you to make the right decisions under pressure. But the most important human factor is your relationships. Machines will not be able to possess it any soon, if ever. Because when your own perspective fails and your own knowledge is not enough, there are people around you. People who will support you with their creative ideas, with their various viewpoints, and with their simple preference based on your friendship.
This is what logistics is, in the end. It is piecing things together. Experiences, ideas, piecing people together to find the best possible solutions, that ‘meet requirements of customers or corporations’.
Not only do we believe, we are sure, that these complex tasks, that we face every day, are not able to be managed by a machine. And in the end, when we all succeed, when your cargo gets to that remote destination – it is a great feeling to call and say: Thank, you. You’ve done great job guys, we can always count on you.