What is information logistics?
Information logistics explained simply: The basis for efficient data exchange
Information of any kind that is of importance along the logistics chain requires a high degree of structure. Because only an interlocking of processes ensures a smooth flow. But in what format is this specific information needed? What distinguishes this data from other details that may also matter?
Definition of information logistics: What is it specifically about?
There is a constant need for information, especially in warehouse management, which directly affects the efficiency of the entire system. The better processes are interlinked and workflows are optimized, the lower the effort and possible sources of error. But by no means every organizational unit, regardless of its approach, focuses holistically on the management of information flows.
The problem: How do users get information about whether a product is available? How is it ensured that data is stored, transmitted and made usable on the spot?
The solution: through improved information management, which ensures that information is provided as needed (1), in the required format (2), at the appropriate time (3), in the right place (4), and to the desired addressee (5).
Accordingly, information logistics is about optimizing all internal and inter-company information flows. The respective user then receives exactly the information in the respective format that is relevant at that point in time.
What is the importance of information logistics in the exchange between companies?
Especially when two companies work closely together and exchange information on a regular basis, systematics and methodology matter. The classic example would be the exchange between the supplier as well as the distributor. Not every piece of information has the same value for the individual actor, so it is also a matter of avoiding unnecessary data transfers.
Below, we outline the aspects of information logistics that are relevant depending on the perspective:
The producer or supplier depends on receiving information such as the number of certain products, necessary adjustments, or increased demand in a timely manner and before any other information. This refers to details that are of central importance for optimal cooperation. The supplier's task is to ensure sufficient replenishment and to guarantee product availability on the retailer's side.
Information logistics is thus part of Industry 4.0 or Logistics 4.0, which is essentially based on establishing an intelligent link between manufacturer -> supplier -> wholesale and retail -> logistics service provider.
Feedback from the customer, a change in demand, and other details are aspects that affect the retailer. Its task within the framework of information logistics is to communicate its own needs in the form to the producer, so that the processes interlock. For this to succeed, there needs to be not only a methodical exchange of data between the players, but also a high degree of trust. After all, a lot of information concerns partly sensitive internals that are considered worthy of protection.
Methods and approaches that shape information logistics in everyday life
The high degree of automation that characterizes information logistics processes requires uniform and efficient communication. On the one hand, this concerns a cross-company flow of information, as illustrated by the examples above. On the other hand, various hierarchical information flows exist within the company, e.g. across departments and responsibilities.
Typically, the following approaches are used in information logistics:
- Shared database systems, also known as Electronic Data Interchange.
- Automatically generated e-mails distributed via the intranet or extranet.
- Standardized data retrievals at specific times to perform data reconciliation.
Information logistics and supply chain management: How do they go together?
When it comes to inter-company information logistics, this always affects the value and supply chain. The focus of supply chain management is on optimizing costs and increasing efficiency with regard to processes, but not least on reducing errors. However, how processes along these chains are planned and controlled is also determined by details based on information logistics data.
The point is: In a fast-moving, globalized world of the 21st century, the task of logistics as well as supply chain management are becoming increasingly similar. Only a functioning logistics system ensures processes that run along the value chain. Supply chain management shifts the focus to the overall construct, which is increasingly characterized by information logistics. This explains the complexity of it all, because in areas such as retail as well as e-commerce in particular, the perfect flow of money, goods and information is crucial.