Logistics is (practically) everywhere, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Logistics and supply chain management ensure that goods and products are always where they are needed - across all sectors and around the world. But not all logistical processed are labelled "logistics" - and that is why the perception of this economic sector is often limited to the trinity of "transport, transshipment and warehousing". Logistics is much more than this, however - and this is underlined by a term that is nowadays synonymous with logistics: namely "supply chain management", in other words, the intelligent planning and control of value added chains.
With increasing globalisation, logistics has become more and more important year by year - and it paves the way for this ongoing globalisation process. Today, procurement, production and sales generally take place on a global level. The automotive sector is an excellent example of this: a car destined for the Scandinavian market is built in Slovakia, using parts produced in various countries of Europe and Asia. This process only works if logistics and supply chain management create the necessary links and connections by ensuring the planning, organisation and control of the international flows of goods and information.
A brief and targeted definition of logistics would be: logistics is ensuring the availability of the right product in the right place in the right quantity in the right condition at the right time for the right customer and at the right cost. This model is just as relevant for supply and disposal services for companies and corporate networks - supply chains - as it is, for example, in the case of local public transport, parcel delivery on a Saturday morning or issues connected to military logistics.
Significance for Germany
With a turnover of around 279 billion euros in 2020 and more than three million employees, logistics is Germany's third-largest economic sector after trade and the automotive industry and has become the emblematic cardiovascular system of the economy, growth and prosperity. In an increasingly interconnected world in which flows of goods and information are managed globally and goods cross oceans, national borders and airspace by ship, plane, truck or rail, smoothly functioning logistics is an essential component of a functioning economy. This is certainly important for Germany, the world's leading logistics nation.
In addition to its direct contribution to prosperity and growth, logistics also plays an important indirect role in Germany's overall economic development. It is precisely because of its close links with all domestic economic sectors and industries that it acts as a growth driver both for the customers of logistics service providers and as a purchaser of goods or services.
Only about half of the logistics services provided in Germany consist of the commonly visible movement of goods by service providers. The other half takes place in the planning, control and implementation of logistics solutions within companies.