What’s the Difference Between Logistics Management and Transportation?

Transportation has always enabled humans to develop civilizations, by facilitating the movement of livestock, people and supplies between locations. The transportation industry as we know it is divided into operations, infrastructure and vehicles. The importance of transport is so grave that without it, trade would be all but impossible.

As for logistics, it is defined in the APICS dictionary as:
1) In an industrial context, the art and science of obtaining, producing, and distributing material and product in the proper place and in proper quantities.
2) In a military sense (where it has greater usage), its meaning can also include the movement of personnel.
The CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals) gives the definition of logistics as;
3) The process of planning, implementing, and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services, and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements.

Now that we have defined both logistics and transportation, we can refer to the title of this article and ask if they are the same thing?

It is quite easy to differentiate according to these definitions. Transportation drives logistics, but is at the same time aided by logistics. It is straightforward to understand from this statement that while they are interdependent, they are different functions. Logistics refers to the planning of the operation, while transportation is the mode by which the plan is executed, moving goods, people etc. from A to B. It can also be extended to encompass the idea that transportation is part of the logistical operation. There are even more factors in a logistics operation which executives must be aware of and make decisions about, including:

• Containers
• Packages
• Documents
• Storage
• Insurance
• Import / Export Regulations
• Collaboration
• Vendors & Partners
• Risk & Expenditure Management

With all this to manage, it is tempting for executives to rely heavily on TMS (Transportation Management) software, however this can be a mistake for businesses regardless of their size. While TMS is undeniably helpful, but as is explained in the list, there are considerations to be made over and above the procurement and management of transportation, which require collaboration to execute effectively.

This blog post is based off of an article from Cerasis, a 3PL with a focus on technology and managed transportation services.