Have you ever wondered how a particular subject gets a “national day”? As you might have guessed, it’s primarily a marketing gimmick supported by the website National Day Calendar. As the website notes, “National Day Calendar is the premier destination for brands, nonprofits, and corporations to register an official National Day that aligns with their product or service.” Saying that something is “official” gives it a gravitas that it might not otherwise warrant. For example, today is also the “official” National Paul Bunyan Day. One company that took advantage of the National Calendar Day service was Logistics Plus, who, in 2019, decided “to register June 28th as the first and only ‘National Logistics Day’ in the U.S. with National Day Calendar — a national holiday registration company.” The company notes, “We wanted to create a day of celebration for all of the great jobs and essential services our industry provides.”
Supply Chain Management and Logistics
One of the persistent questions asked in the supply chain sector is what is the difference between supply chain management (SCM) and logistics? For many people, it’s a distinction without a difference. For example, supply chain academics at Michigan State University write, “The terms logistics and supply chain management are sometimes used interchangeably. Some say there is no difference between the two terms, that supply chain management is the ‘new’ logistics. To compound this, what is considered supply chain management in the United States is more commonly known as logistics management in Europe.” Nevertheless, they write, “While these two terms do have some similarities they are, in fact, different concepts with different meanings. Supply chain management is an overarching concept that links together multiple processes to achieve competitive advantage, while logistics refers to the movement, storage, and flow of goods, services and information within the overall supply chain.”
Journalist David Widdifield agrees that logistics is subset of supply chain management. He writes, “Logistics pertains to only one part of the supply chain, so it is not to be confused with SCM as a whole.” He also agrees that logistics plays a role in the “Three types of flows [that] occur in the supply chain: products, information and cash.” He explains, “Logistics plays a specific role in the product forward flow and backward flow — the physical distribution or the physical movement of goods. Further, logistics, also known as distribution, is responsible for the materials-handling, order-placing, warehousing-management, carrier selection, product or service delivery, and product and service recovery.” The staff at CAF Worldwide agrees that logistics is subset of supply chain management; however, they describe the differences this way:
“Think of a supply chain as a network — of manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, etc. — rather than a series of specific functions. Logistics, on the other hand, is more immediately tangible; it refers to the activities involved in moving goods from one point to another within a supply chain. Simply put: Logistics is a fraction of supply chain management; the latter, an umbrella term used to describe an entire business philosophy, encompassing all internal and external supply chain processes, including logistics.”
At the end of the day, Abby Jenkins, a Product Marketing Manager at Oracle Netsuite, concludes, “When well executed, both supply chain management and logistics can give companies a competitive advantage and bring value to customers.” Writing specifically about logistics, Jenkins notes, “Logistics are a critical piece of supply chains because [they manage and track] the people and resources needed to store and transfer goods and services. Logistics ensure that materials and products reliably move at the right time and on budget.” She goes on to list a few specific aspects of logistics that support supply chains. They include:
• Delivering the right products at the right time.
• Reducing costs and improving efficiency.
• Helping retain customers and increasing loyalty.
• Providing a unique value proposition for some businesses.
• Providing a means to deliver goods from the most cost-effective location for production to the location of the customer.
When, in 2019, Logistics Plus established National Logistics Day, the pandemic had yet to strike and resulting supply chain snarls had yet to manifest themselves. The company noted, “Most people understand that it takes transportation and logistics to get the stuff we all want and rely upon to our homes and offices, but it could be argued that what our industry does is often taken for granted.” That is less true today as more people than ever understand the supply chain and logistics can’t be taken for granted. With supply chain operations now in the limelight, the staff at Logistics Plus reports that National Logistics Day celebrations are beginning to catch on. They explain:
“Thanks to a groundswell of support, it has been impressive to witness the holiday take root. Seeing transportation and logistics companies, both large and small, lighting up social media with #NationalLogisticsDay tweets, posts, and shares of support has been extremely gratifying. But that was not the only support. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued a House Resolution naming National Logistics Day as an official state holiday; the States of Ohio and South Carolina both issued formal proclamations; and with the support of Congressman Kelly, the U.S. House of Representatives issued a formal Congressional Record honoring June 28th as a National Logistics Day.”
One of the many similarities shared by supply chain management and logistics is an increasing reliance on cognitive technologies (aka artificial intelligence (AI)). Supply chain journalist Oliver Freeman notes, “AI in logistics has undergone significant transformation over the years. With many companies in supply chain and logistics undergoing a digital transformation, the influence of new technology is accelerating at considerable speed. In order to remain successful and maintain a competitive advantage in the field, companies know that it’s essential to leverage AI and Big Data into day-to-day operations. Although new AI-driven concepts are being introduced, they aren’t new to the logistics sector. In fact, trucking, rail and ocean freight have been tracked by satellite through telematics for decades. However, the data hasn’t previously been utilized to its full capacity until recently.”
During the early days of the pandemic, people realized just how essential logistics workers were to their well-being. As the Logistics Plus staff proclaims, “We’re important.” They mean, logistics workers are important — and there are a lot of workers in the field. The Logistics Plus staff reports, “It is estimated that the transportation and warehousing segment in the U.S. alone accounts for over 5.5 million jobs and that logistics activities account for nearly 8% of everything we make and sell. The third-party logistics segment alone represents a $233 billion industry.” There are no Oscars for truck drivers or Grammys for warehouse workers, so giving them a little recognition via National Logistics Day is the least we can do for these essential and hardworking people.
 Staff, “National Logistics Day,” Logistics Plus, 2021.
 Staff, “Is Logistics the Same as Supply Chain Management?” Michigan State University, 30 October 2020.
 David Widdifield, “Logistics vs. Supply Chain Management: What’s the Difference?” Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas, 17 February 2020.
 Staff, “What’s the Difference Between Logistics and Supply Chain Management?” CAF Worldwide, 4 May 2018.
 Abby Jenkins, “Supply Chain Management vs Logistics: Differences, Similarities and Roles,” Oracle Netsuite, 5 February 2021.
 Oliver Freeman, “The Role of AI and Big Data in Modern-Day Logistics,” Supply Chain Digital, 13 December 2020.