Logistics Information Processes

The management of shipping is closely related to the management of information flows relevant to logistics. This is managed by the logistics information processes and systems of manufacturers, traders, importers and exporters, and freight forwarders or their agents, whose operations vary depending on the sectors and kind of goods involved. These processes can include pre-information, warehouses and distribution centres (and call-offs from these centres rather than direct delivery).

Role of logistics information systems

Logistics information systems provide information on goods and follow their delivery path, with their progress and status, and the influence of changes on the purchasing, production, warehousing, financial and accounting systems. Logistic systems depend on external information and international standards to comply with regulations, and to use standardized ways of exchanging logistic information with other systems and with authorities.
An important difference between these systems is whether the emphasis is on the content of the goods or on the transport equipment or transport means used. Manufacturers and traders want to monitor the actual products and articles to know whether they will arrive on time and in proper condition at the delivery places, and to be able to take prompt action when incidents happen. Transporters are focussed on the progress and status of the transport means and the transport equipment in them. If incidents or delays happen, transporters can report these to their clients but the impact on delivering or restocking can only be understood by the traders and manufacturers. For commercial reasons, the transporter may not actually know the details of the goods.
Authorities, especially Customs and authorities responsible for security in transport, have an interest in the content of goods, as well as the transport means and equipment used to transport them.

An overview of logistics information processes between trade and transport is given in the MIST (Multi Industry Scenarios for Transport) document MIST Report version 2000, developed by the CEFACT Transport Group.
The report deals with scenarios for different modes of transport, warehousing, pre- and on-carriage, and includes all information exchanges between consignor, consignee and carrier/freight forwarder.

Implementation solutions

For the the modelling of logistic processes and their information flows, one can use Business Process Analysis. Modelling of logistic processes can assist in understanding and clearly describing the information relationships between parties and authorities and in defining improvements to the logistic systems.

Trade facilitation can assist logistic processes and systems by:

  • making international and national regulations and standardized and harmonized messages and code lists easily and publicly available in electronic files and on the internet, such as a number of UNECE and UN/CEFACT Recommendations for code lists (for example 16 on location codes and 9 on currencies),
  • by facilitating electronic communications between private parties and authorities, such as electronic declarations to customs, and
  • by modelling the processes for a certain instrument, for example the Reference Model for eTIR.