The evolution of logistics
No matter how far back in time we look, to a lesser or greater degree logistics has always been present. Hand in hand with technological advances, it has always provided a response to the new and chameleonic needs of society. Logistics has evolved, expanded and consolidated, becoming the axis of its great validator, globalisation.
From the origins of the word, when the Greeks and Romans discovered its potential and created the figure of the Logistika, “one skilled in calculating” (a military official charged with supplying an army), until today, when terms such as supply chain, big data, just in time, QR codes, 3PL or 4PL and push or pull strategies have become our universal slang to communicate in this exciting world, many milestones have been achieved since food was stored in caves almost 5000 years ago.
So, allow us to give you a brief overview of some of these milestones in our personal homage to the world of logistics in general and of business in particular.
The building of the Egyptian pyramids. The creation of great trade routes, the Silk Road for instance. The appearance of the postal system or the telegraph. The steam age and the introduction of the railway. The construction of the Panama Canal (the origin of a new logistical world map). The creation of the shipping container. Economic development, globalisation and, at the close of the 20thcentury, the arrival of the digital world. All of these have transformed the world of logistics into what it is today: the driving force behind the economy.
Far behind us lie the crisis of the 1950s, when production and sales capacity were greater than distribution capacity, or the 1980s, a period in which logistics came to historical maturity, coinciding with the early indications of globalisation.
We are living in new times; it is the era of e-commerce, the umpteenth revolution of the market, the first with fully digital influences, with the reduction of intermediaries, minimum delivery times and extremely competitive prices. The era of continuous and tailored supply. Therefore, speaking in terms of evolution and to paraphrase another paraphrase, we must constantly bear in mind Megginson’s summary of Darwin’s ideas:
“It is not the most intellectual of the speciesbrands that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but […] the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
Font: Transeop “The Historical Evolution of Logistics”.