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Many terms are therefore used interchangeably, in literature and in the humanitarian world. One quite frequently accepted view in the humanitarian sector is: Logistics = Supply + Materials Management + Distribution.

Logistics is concerned with physical material and information flows from raw material through to the final destination of the finished product. Major emphasis is now placed on the importance of information as well as physical flows, and an additional and very relevant factor is that of reverse logistics – the flow of products and packaging back through the system.

There is often confusion between “logistics” and “supply chain management”. Logistics is one activity of the end-to-end process of supply chain management.

Humanitarian aid in emergencies may well be ‘80% logistics’ but it encompasses a wider spectrum of activities; as Van Wassenhove observes :

“To many humanitarians, the definition of logistics is open to interpretation”.

From article in Journal of the Operational Research Society, vol 57, no 5, p 475, 2006.

 

On the other hand, “Supply Chain Management deals with the management of materials, information, and financial flows in a network consisting of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers."

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 Prof. HauLee -Stanford Supply Chain Forum

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Thomas and Nizushima expand the definition of humanitarian logistics to include:

. Thus, while supply chain management has a rather narrow and specific role, logistics is more varied and difficult to constrain to a single role. However, for the purpose of clarity, the LOG will adapt the definition by Thomas and Nizushima“The process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, cost-effective flow and storage of goods and materials as well as related information, from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of meeting the end beneficiary’s requirements.

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” Logistics training:

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Necessity or

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Luxury? (Forced Migration Review, no 22, Jan. 2005.

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For the purpose of the LOG we will adapt the definition by Thomas and Nizushima).

 

Commercial Logistics versus Humanitarian Logistics

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