The history of logistics… How did it all begin?

In the beginning was there a word? In the case of the development of any field of science, it most likely all started with the question. Who is man (philosophy), what does our body look like inside (medicine), whether our planet was inhabited by different species of animals than today (paleontology), what is existence (physics)…. and how to move the troops of an army while constantly supplying it with weapons, water, food and medicine (logistics)?

The history of logistics vs. the military

Yes, yes, it will certainly surprise many of you to learn that the history of logistics is closely related to military history. Armies needed constant supplies and the fate of a country depended on the success of military missions, so the logistics processes involved were of utmost importance. It is considered that the creator of the first logistics system was Alexander the Great, so logistics is almost as old as the art of war. The term “logistics” was used in a 10th century work titled “Summation of the Art of War” by Byzantine Emperor Leontos VI. It mainly referred to the efficient execution of the payment of wages, the provision of equipment and the provision of soldiers’ needs, as well as the establishment of strategies for fighting the enemy.

It was not until the World War II era that it proved to be a turning point in the history of logistics. The US government set up teams of specialists working on the development of mathematical planning models that were to find practical application in solving the supply problems of the US military.

History of logistics vs. the military

Logistics for civilian use

It took some more time for logistics to be applied to civilian purposes. It wasn’t until 1956 (!!!) that the results of a study on the relationship between the cost of air transportation and the cost of holding stocks of given goods during distribution were published. This is the moment where logistics itself took the shape in which we know it today, as the processes of planning storage activities and the flow of goods and information.

At this point, it should be noted that the history of logistics in its broadest sense is not the same as the development of warehouse logistics itself, since people began storing products ever since agriculture arose and the need to put inventory somewhere arose. The first warehouses were most likely granaries for grain and food – in this form they were already widespread in ancient Egypt. Over time, individual rooms began to be separated – separately for weapons, clothing and foodstuffs.

Over time, warehouses also began to serve as a place of trade and a source of profit. The medieval and Renaissance eras brought a significant increase in the number of warehouses. On the other hand, after the Industrial Revolution the number of people living in cities grew so rapidly that in order to supply their citizens, there was a need for more warehouses and the organization of efficient supply chains. In Poland, the first warehouses were not built until the late 17th and early 19th centuries.

Facilities along the lines of logistics complexes as we know them in their modern form were built first in the US in the 1930s. They served not only to store goods, but also became the center of distribution and logistics in the broad sense of the term.

Initially, the most modern and best-equipped warehouses were, of course, those built for the army and industry. Food warehouses were erected multi-storied, gradually moving away from this inconvenient form later on.

Modern warehouse logistics

The heyday ofmodern warehouse logistics dates back to the 20th century, and is closely linked to the development of industry, technology and the economy, as well as the growth of the world’s population.

COVID 19 pandemic and the need to isolate and maintain social distance has strongly influenced the development of the e-commerce industry. Some companies have given up maintaining their own warehouse space and hiring employees to operate them, outsourcing warehousing and distribution services to logistics centers. Demand for warehouses has increased significantly, responding to the growing needs of the aforementioned e-commerce industry. Many logistics companies have expanded their warehouse space – this has also happened to our company LCL Logistic.

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, it all started with a question. Now, after thousands of years of development and with the current booming logistics industry, it still comes down to a question. The question is no longer just about the current state of affairs, but about possible future forms of it. Where are you going logistics – one would like to ask.Logistics, of course, is silent, and also the wise heads of this world do not have a glass ball to answer such questions. However, one thing seems to be certain – the logistics industry is developing dynamically, facilitated by the development of technology. It will also certainly not lose its role in the continued development of the global economy as long as humanity exists.