While many people might not know very much about international logistics, they would not have been able to obtain the majority of items they own without the work of professionals in this industry. International logistics is the practice of sourcing, tracking, transporting, and monitoring items across international borders. Read on to learn more about international logistics.
Aspects of International Logistics
International logistics involves tracking and managing items across a company’s entire supply chain, specifically a supply chain that stretches across more than one country. As you might imagine, this is a very complicated process and there are many aspects that logistics professionals have to manage. The aspects of international logistics include sourcing items, creating shipping schedules, transportation (including clearing customs), the use of the items in producing a finished product, inventory management, and distribution to the end-user.
International logistics is more complex and difficult than domestic logistics because logistics professionals have to work with organizations that operate under different laws and guidelines than those in their home country. Also, logistics professionals have to ensure procedures follow the laws of all countries involved, especially when it comes to moving items through customs.
The Process of International Logistics
It can be difficult to visualize the complex process of international logistics if you’re not familiar with the field. However, a basic international logistics process can be broken down into step-by-step actions that are fairly straightforward.
The first step is sourcing. This often involves purchasing natural resources, such as metals, from mining companies. Once the resources have changed hands, the logistics professional must arrange for local storage while they make shipping arrangements. After the shipping arrangements are made, the logistics professional has to track the items as they move to the company’s production facilities. This part of the process is often where the items cross international borders, which means they must clear customs.
A logistics manager now has to keep track of the item as it goes through the production process and is stored in the company’s warehouses. It will then be shipped from the warehouse to a retail store as needed. Finally, the logistics manager has to track the inventory of the retail stores until the items are finally sold.
As you might expect, there are often many logistics professionals involved in this complicated process. Many logistics teams have members that specialize in a different part of the process, such as creating shipping schedules. However, veteran logistics professionals may be promoted to management positions where they have to oversee every aspect of the international logistics process.
The Three Channels of International Logistics
There are three “channels” (areas of specialization) within international logistics. These are the transaction channel, the distribution channel, and the documentation channel. The transaction channel concerns the purchase of the items and the processing of payment for these items. It also concerns the processing of payment for other services, such as shipping. The distribution channel covers the shipping of the item. The documentation channel involves managing the information and paperwork (such as customs forms) related to the item.