January 2007 | Commentary | Checking In

Hidden Heroes Power the Supply Chain (Keith Biondo)

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Some people manage simple logistics systems. Others face logistics complexities that stretch beyond their ability to master them. Some people oversee logistics flows across the globe. Others run a seemingly never-ending closed loop of highly disciplined product flow within the confines of a single state.

Some logistics managers operate a transport program that flat-lines for most of the year, then suddenly spikes up hard and fast enough to cause a corresponding rise in blood pressure. Lucky people manage a product flow that is so regular and predictable you could set your watch by it.

A common thread ties together all that logistics diversity: People. No matter how stunningly complex or artistically simple the logistics challenge, it is people who master the variability to get the job done.

The people in logistics comprise a unique blend of the practical and visionary; and it falls to them—to you—to make good on the brash promises made by others in the enterprise. It could be the over-eager sales department stretching your capabilities to grow your enterprise.

Or perhaps it's the customer service folks trying to smooth over a past, but still painful, missed commitment to a key customer. Sometimes it's your company's visionary dreaming of opening new markets or sources of supply. More often than not it is a customer asking for the near-impossible delivered with blinding speed.

Who then calls upon complex theory and technology, and enlists others to help provide the reliability and muscle needed to sync the desafinado naturally created by this robust activity? Logistics professionals bring order to this chaos and the resultant harmony makes commerce run profitably. You do that.

Yet much of what you do goes unnoticed by the average person or typical consumer. Unmindful of the heroics it sometimes takes to match a want or need with satisfaction, or the larger role our industry plays in overall economic growth, it seems your contribution is sometimes recognized by others only when there is a failure.

This year's Logistics Planner is therefore dedicated to the people in logistics; our lead article is People: The Power Behind the Supply Chain.

From managing regular product fulfillment to crafting a new business in far-off places driven by logistics excellence, the article shows it does not matter if you wrangle compliance paperwork, write the code moving theory into practice, or speak the words to marshal the enthusiasm to accomplish the impossible. Nor does it matter if your career began on a production line, as an engineer, shopkeeper, historian, or lawyer. Logisticians all.

More importantly the under-celebrated status of the profession does not matter to them. Logistics professionals measure success by the job done, commitment kept by commitment kept. That, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing who really runs it all.

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