Logistics management ensures the proper and timely distribution, storage and reclamation of needed materials. It uses a variety of applications from material productions to commodity delivery to military maneuvers. Logistics management has four main types, each emphasizing a different aspect of the supply process.


The four types of logistics are supply, distribution, production and reverse logistics.

Supply Management and Logistics

Supply management involves the planning and coordination of materials that are needed in a certain location at a specific time to support production or activity (as in the case with military supply). Supply logistics must include transportation of the materials and storage as well as a means for evaluating the level of supply at different stages of the process to make sure the flow of materials matches need. This can involve getting all of the construction materials to a construction site or parts that are needed in a manufacturing plant.

Distribution and Material Movement

Distribution involves managing how a supplied and stored material is then dispersed to the locations it is needed. This involves issues of material movement (loading, unloading and transportation), tracking of stock and accountability of use (recording how the supply is used and by whom). This can involve moving supplies from a central warehouse to the shelves of a retail store.

Production Logistics and Management

Production logistics manages the stages of combining distributed supplies into a product. This can involve the coordination required in a manufacturing or assembling process and in the case of applications such as military production, the logistics of coordinating space and areas for production to occur. In construction as well, production logistics will include the staging of material at the right time to coordinate with the phase of building taking place.

Reverse Logistics and Product Return

Reverse logistics involves the reclamation of material and supplies from a production or assembly process. For instance, in the logistics management of a construction project, reverse logistics plans for the removal of excess material and re-absorption of the material into a stock supply.

In military applications, it is commonly used for exit strategy planning and coordinating the transfer of material and equipment back to a storage base from an area where military exercises were performed.

It can also apply to the return of unwanted but unused products from an end customer seeking a refund. There is a whole industry that has been created in recent years to handle customer returns, including testing, refurbishment and adding items back into inventory. A customer might order something online like a printer or children's toy that they never used. Before it can be resold, it should go through a process to ensure that it will be suitable to be sold to another customer.