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Logistics Analysts


The supply chain field developed during the industrial revolution, which introduced machinery that could mass produce products and goods. The heightened efficiency of these manufacturing processes meant fewer workers were needed. The manufacturing industry also expanded as new transportation methods developed, such as steamships, railroads, and airplanes. Materials, supplies, and products could now be procured and transported to more regions of the United States and around the world.

Logistics is an area of supply chain management that emerged from military operations in the 1900s. The military used logistics to transport the correct number of men, machinery, and supplies to the correct place and at the correct time during campaigns. The business world adapted logistics to its practices in the 1950s, using logistics analysis and coordination tactics to improve production and material handling.

In the 1960s, trucks rather than railways started to deliver freight that had specific delivery time frames. This created what became known in the industry as "physical distribution," and with it emerged the need for professionals who could coordinate and manage the production process, material handling, freight transportation, and warehousing. The National Council of Physical Distribution Management was established at this time to help create standards and guidelines for this new area of business. Distribution, transportation, and supply managers used computers starting in the 1970s, for transactions, truck routing and scheduling, supply and product inventory, record keeping, and other management and coordination aspects.

Personal computers were introduced in the 1980s, giving logistics professionals more computer-based tools to help them in their work, including software for spreadsheets and map-based interfaces for supply chain management and logistics. During this time the National Council of Physical Distribution Management also changed its name to the Council of Logistics Management. Logistics became recognized as intrinsic in supply chain processes and management, and many companies included training programs for logistics and operations planning in their budgets. Software programs were also introduced for logistics planning, such as Material Requirements Planning (MRP),  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) systems.  

The manufacturing industry grew further in the 1990s and early 2000s, with especially dramatic growth in U.S. imports from China (from $45 billion in 1995 to more than $280 billion in 2006). This growth increased the need for professional supply chain managers as well as logistics analysts to coordinate, manage, and increase the efficiency of complex business processes.

Supply chain management and logistics analysis gained ground as a distinct business discipline. In 2005, the Council of Logistics Management became the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. According to the Council, “Logistics is that part of the supply chain process that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services, and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customers’ requirements. … Supply Chain Management is the systemic, strategic coordination of the traditional business functions and the tactics across these business functions within a particular company and across businesses within the supply chain for the purposes of improving the long-term performance of the individual companies and the supply chain as a whole.”

Today logistics professionals are involved in all levels of planning and executing the movement of goods, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. logistics and transportation industry spending totaled nearly $1.6 trillion in 2018, represented 8 percent of the annual gross domestic product, and is expected to continue growing through 2028.

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