Logistics business comes from the ancient time. So the history of the logistics business is very old. The word “logistics” originated from the french word “logistique” or “loger” which means storage. In the modern day, logistics is a business process that involves managing the movement of goods from point A to point B according to the demands of end-users or consumers. Whether we like it or not, logistics is already a part of our daily lives. If you are buying your groceries from the local supermarket, that means that you are already reaping the benefits of this ancient yet effective system.
Logistics might have changed the way it is done in the past hundreds of years but its core system is still the same. Let us take a short trip down the brief history of how logistics evolved into the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today.
Logistics in the ancient times
It is hard to pinpoint the exact origin of the logistics process that we know and use today. But, the oldest evidence seems to point to the Greeks and Romans. During these times where kingdoms and empires were mostly pillaging around the world and expanding their reach. To do this, these ancient rulers have to devise ways to effectively move their troops, war equipment, and provisions from one place to another. This was already considered a logistical practice in itself. However, this period was very unforgiving to our ancient counterparts as they have to endure and surpass many challenges:
- Vast distances – Most armies needed to travel hundreds of miles on foot or horse in ancient times to help in their war efforts. As the world at that period was less populated than it is today, many town centers are separated by vast distances from each other. Sometimes, it takes weeks for the troops to reach their destinations.
- Unpredictable routes – Unlike our carefully mapped out roads in the 21st century, ancient highways are filled with different types of challenges that make the trip more difficult. Sometimes, roads can be blocked by landslides that will add to the delay of the travel. Ancient armies are also vulnerable at night which is why they have to select specific stops along the route for camping. But even with all measures in place, many issues can still happen that range from enemy ambush or even animal attacks.
- Ancient equipment – We are very lucky that technological advancements gave us the best type of equipment for moving our goods today. Modern armies have planes, ships, trucks, and even helicopters to move anything over vast distances in a relatively short time. During the ancient period, a lot of armies are using horses and even elephants to move their cargo. For that time, it was the fastest that they could but still way more time-consuming compared to how we do it today.
- Premature system – Without a proper system in place, many logistical efforts in ancient times are plagued with problems. Today, we have computerized systems that are powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence to make our work faster. This technology was not even a dream then. Our forefathers relied on the earliest form of recording to make sure that they keep track of all the movements of their goods.
Logistics in the middle age
Thanks to the established practices by the ancient rulers, kings in the middle age were able to inherit a simple yet effective practice of moving cargo and people. Though the system is not yet perfect, a lot had improved during this period.
Established routes for logistical operations made the efforts faster and safer. Regional areas of responsibility were also established and the early forms of supply chain management were already taking place.
Many middle age rulers started establishing castles in their whole empire that served as ‘hubs’ for transport and storage.
Logistics in the industrial age
Perhaps the biggest change so far to how logistical efforts are conducted came about during the industrial age. During the 19th century, modern technological inventions at that time were introduced to the public. This is when steam engines were finally working properly that they can already be used for different applications.
This age brought rails, and ships using steam engines. What once took months to transport can now be done within weeks. The world somehow became smaller. This series of events gave birth to shipping companies that some are even operating today.
By the beginning of the 20th century, most parts of Europe and the United States already has established railroad networks to move heavy cargo over vast distances. This further reduced cost and made different products accessible to almost everyone.
When the two world wars broke out, it stopped many developments during the industrial revolution. Most technology and research were diverted to the war. However, when the war was over in the 1950s, it brought a new wave of techniques and methodologies that further improved our worldwide logistics practices.
Logistics in the modern age
A lot of things have changed in the last 300 years. In the 21st century, the development in information technology has mainly dictated the changes that were implemented in the logistics industry. While it is true that we are still using the core systems that we did hundreds of years ago, it is way more easy, safe and fast today.
Information technology gave us new processes that provide seamless, fast, and reliable data. Modern web-based applications made sure that all individuals involved in the movement of goods and cargo have all the tools that they need to do their job right at their fingertips. Artificial intelligence and machine learning also enabled us to use vast amounts of data for making future decisions through the use of data analytics.
Modern infrastructure also paved the way for faster and safer movement of goods. New technologies in vehicle manufacturing gave us the best trucks, planes, and ships, that not only saved us cost but also provided tremendous savings through fuel efficiency while providing the fastest method of cargo movement.
What the future holds
A lot has changed in the world of logistics and a lot more can happen in the future. Research in sustainable energy and autonomous vehicles might be the way forward and everyone in the industry is excited to see where these new technologies will lead us.
Whatever the changes may be, logistics is still here to make sure that your goods are moved to where they are needed within the most effective management of time and resources. If you want to know more about improving your company’s logistics practices, talk with us today and explore how you can be more effective in this field.