Project logistic : mission possible

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July 2008 |  By John Edwards

Project Logistics: Mission Possible

Their mission, should they decide to accept it, is to transport sensitive materials around the globe. They'll grapple withissues of size, time, cost, scheduling, security, and fragility. Failure is not an option. They are project logistics professionals.

Whether they're transporting priceless objects between museums,delivering life-saving medical products, provisioning one-of-a-kind public events, or simply opening a new store, the people who work in the hectic, high-pressure world of project logistics routinelyhandle critical shipments encumbered with unique characteristics and demands. They must typically cope with long-distance hauls, oversized cargo, perishable items, fragile merchandise, and variousother types of hard-to-handle shipments. They often face time and security constraints as well as the need to reach remote and difficult-to-access locations.

Project logistics imposes demands andcarries responsibilities that might make a typical logistics manager cringe with horror or cry in despair. "It's not an area for the meek," says David Simchi-Levi, a supply chain analyst with theInstitute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS), a society of operations research professionals based in Hanover, Md.

"Special-needs logistics situations are generally so demanding thatfew enterprises are willing or capable of supporting them on their own."

The companies that do handle project logistics are "fixers" -- capable of tackling just about any assignment, no matter howdifficult or complex. Project logistics experts pride themselves on being able to offer a level of in-depth knowledge about shipping modes, schedules, routes, handling procedures, local services, andgovernment regulations that even the most capable mainstream third-party logistics (3PL) provider might be hard-pressed to match. Businesses tackling critical projects can benefit from an outside...
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