Definitions for logistics are numerous. Logistics is furthermore divisionalised amongst functional lines as well as industry lines. Therefore one hears about military logistics, business logistics, marketing logistics, engineering logistics, logistics relating to e-commerce and some more. Within the various professional disciplines and societies the viewpoints differ even more than the definitions. The reason for this confusion when it comes to defining and understanding logistics is because of the way in which logistics is functionalised. With all these different functional focusses the emphasis tends to be on detailed logistics solutions often causing sub-optimisation of systems. There seems to be a lack of a unifying logistics approach that will allow consideration of the dynamic nature of systems to ensure system optimisation rather than sub-system optimisation. This thesis proposes a different approach to prevent the sub-optimisation of logistics by viewing logistics from a system perspective rather than a functional perspective and at the same time consider the life-cycle of the system of interest. When viewing logistics from a system perspective, the question to ask is not to which function logistics belong, but within each phase of the system life-cycle, what the contribution is logistics needs to make to the overall system performance. In order to view logistics from a system and life-cycle perspective, there needs to exist an understanding of systems and system concepts. This understanding has to be supplemented by an understanding how systems are created. As logistics is concerned with man-made systems, two types of man-made systems require A generic approach to integrated logistic support for whole-life whole-systems understanding, namely organisational systems and product systems, also known as durable goods. By using the system principles of holism, synthetic thinking and teleology, it is demonstrated that all systems can be described by generic sub-systems (the logistic subsystem being one of them), the success of all systems can be measured using the generic system measurements of ability, availability and affordability, and that all systems go through a life-cycle. Based on the reality that organisations and durable products/services all possess system characteristics as described above, and that non-durable products/services form part of a higher level system, a generic model has been constructed indicating the relationships and flow of the managerial and technical logistics activities which need to take place at each stage of the system’s life-cycle to ensure that the system ability, availability and affordability requirements are met. To validate the model, high level system dynamic relationships were constructed and the outcome of the application and non-application of the model argued using thought experiments. This was done using an imaginary system comparing the effects if the dynamic approach to logistics for the system is ignored to the effects if the dynamic approach to logistics for the system is followed. The thought experiment was done for all dimensions of logistics, namely operational support and maintenance support as well as for the management of each dimension throughout the life-cycle. It is thus concluded that following a dynamic approach to the logistics of a system greatly enhances the system performance.
Dissertation (PhD (Industrial Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2004.