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Monthly Roundup
Logistics or supply chain management
Wheels to the economy's engine
Ershad Khandker

          Global economic activity has come full circle. This is true because the entire world is linked into a chain of economic activity, in small or big way depending on the volume of trade and business and size and success of each economy. The one thing that links the world economic activity happens to be the logistics and supply chain management apparatus. humongous ships take billions of tonnes of cargo to different shores. Air cargo planes make delivery of cargo in double quick time albeit more expensively than ships. Machinery large and monstrous in size or smaller more swift moving ones are used to lift and move cargo. Massive legions of ordinary trucks or highly modern vehicles fitted with gadgets and technical abilities are used to ferry goods to far-flung destinations. This is happening in every country of the world and almost every country would have had visitors from the world of logistics that have been to other countries of the globe as well! This almost romantic description is an apt way to look at the world of logistics where hard men toil day and night to make a shipment while slick highly educated and top of the line managers make complicated supply Chain management plans that involve innovative solutions to make difficult logistical challenges become possible. There would be a need to build temporary warehouses, shrubbery cleared to build new roads, clear obstacles from waterways or erect temporary bridges to ferry goods, build airports and helipads, you name it! Cargo, machinery, ships and vehicles are the hardware part of the logistics industry. Logistics becomes supply chain management when you move to the more cerebral exercise of planning and laying out a detailed strategy. Logistics means the equipment and people needed to make a task come true. Supply Chain Management means the actual management of the supply chain with proper logistical tools and resources.
Managing is a matter of proper planning, looking into details, anticipating and making decisions when something goes wrong. Something will go wrong in any plan, the very definition of the world planning implies that a Plan is needed because when you go through the details of the supply chain and logistical requirement of any given situation, any new surprise would have been visualised and anticipated and back-up mechanism in equipments, expertise, extra hands both in manpower and machinery would have been made ready.
A small or large manufacturing or service unit would need proper logistics and a proper supply chain management plan in place. This is needed to ensure that all import of raw material come to the factory on time, and the finished product leave for the distribution centers or to the airport if the goods are being exported. This being the basic need, there are other smaller plans that are in place to ensure a smooth running of operation round the different shipment cycles. Human Resource management, inventory management, time management are done by administration staff who work at the directive of the senior management staff who would coordinate the different sides by looking at the cost and benefit, time requirement, local and global economic ups and downs, political situations etc. The manufacturing or service industry would not work properly or reach profit if a proper logistical equipment and manpower and a proper supply chain management plan is not in place.
Logistics is the first thing in the mind of a person in charge of organising any thing from a wedding to a ceremonial passing out parade of an armed forces battalion. In the same way, logistics and supply chain management comes in the mind of any manager or government official setting out to manage a unit of business, or the entire sector or the entire economy of the country. Need for proper logistics forces a country to improve roads so that trucks and other logistical machinery can run smoothly, improvement of communication is made to allow for updated information flow, tax and registration and trade and other official functions are made seamless as a result of the need to allow quicker and smoother flow of goods and services etc. Logistics is the catalyst for the improvement of the engine of the economy.
In Bangladesh logistics companies have played their part in harnessing the potential of the economy. Multinational companies and their local counterparts have done a very good job. The readymade garments (RMG) industry needed large and valuable cargoes to be shipped in good condition to buyers who where placing orders in the tune of billions of dollars. Multinational logistics companies revolutionised the logistics industry by investing millions of dollars to improve the entire logistical service and solution. Buyers tracked their cargo from their own office via globally linked software network backed by multi-million dollar hardware installations. Bar coding and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allowed for pricing and other information to be retrieved by the push of a button and E-Doc made storage and exchange of 30-40 documents at one time possible. Smart facilities are being run by smart local human resource in environment that rivals any service providing company from any other sector of the economy.
This important cog in the wheel of the economy, namely the logistics industry, needs to be looked at and dealt with by the authorities to streamline whatever problems lie in the smooth functioning of the logistics business. Problems in paper work including registration should be looked at and dealt with fairly for all companies, customs facilities improved and ports and other installations modernised, banking and other formalities improved and updated according to the established practice now prevalent in other countries so that the logistics companies continue to be able to provide good supply chain management leading to the improvement of the efficiency level in the trade and economic management of the country.


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