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Maritime Logistics: A New Definition

The rapid increase in world trade in the past decade has restructured the global maritime industry and has brought about new developments, deregulation, liberalization and increased competition.

There have been dramatic changes in the mode of world trade and cargo transportation, characterized by the prevalence of business-to-business and integrated supply chains. These changes have been embodied in the increasing demand for value-added logistics services and the integration of various transportation modes.

As a consequence, high-quality logistics services and the effective and efficient integration of transport and logistics systems offered by a maritime operator (i.e. a shipping company or port/terminal operator) has become an important issue.

Maritime logistics has been traditionally regarded as the primary means of transporting parts and finished goods on a global scale and has recently attracted considerable attention from academics and practitioners alike.

However, the term 'maritime logistics,' is not easy to define and its precise definition, scope and role within global supply chains are yet to be established.

On the one hand, maritime transport (i.e. shipping and ports) is clearly concerned with the transportation of goods and/or passengers between two or more seaports by sea; on the other hand, logistics is the function responsible for the flow of materials from suppliers into an organization, through operations within the organization and then out to customers.

A supply chain is composed of a series of activities and organizations that materials (i.e. raw materials and information) move through on their journey from initial suppliers to final customers.

Supply chain management involves the integration of all key business operations across the supply chain.

In general, logistics and supply chain management relate to the coordinated management of the various functions in charge of the flow of materials from suppliers to an organization through a number of operations across and within the organization, and then reaching out to its consumers.

Based on this clean-cut understanding, in 2006 Photis Panayides, one of the authors of Maritime Logistics, further elaborated on the issue of convergence of maritime transport and logistics.

These two terms are largely attributed to the physical integration of modes of transport facilitated by containerization and the evolving demands of end-users that require the application of logistics concepts and the achievement of logistics goals. At the centre of maritime logistics is, therefore, the concept of integration, be it physical (intermodal or multimodal), economic/strategic (vertical integration, governance structure) or organizational (relational, people and process integration across organizations) as an ongoing attempt to create greater value for shareholders.

At the cutting edge in its assessment of the industry, Maritime Logistics covers the whole scope of maritime logistics and examines latest logistical developments within the port and shipping industry.

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