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Edited by André de Palma, Robin Lindsey, Emile Quinet and Roger Vickerman
Chapter 11: Economics of Transport Logistics
Michel Beuthe INTRODUCTION The general organization of a firm and its transportation activities must be approached from a business logistics point of view, which analyses ‘the movement, storage and related activities between the place of origin where the company obtains its raw materials, and the place where its products are required for consumption by its customers’ (Blauwens et al., 2002). Although logistics was initially associated with inventory management and transport, it encompasses nowadays a complete analysis of the production processes in their relationship with demand, transport, distribution of products, and recycling processes of return items and used goods. Actually, the total logistics approach is in principle concerned with the whole chain of productive activities including transport. It follows that logistics as a rational analysis of complex processes covers a very large ground. It can be applied to practically all human activities and uses a wide range of disciplines: economics, engineering, management of business, operations research, statistics and mathematics. It is really a multidisciplinary field of analysis, even when attention is focused on a particular activity like in the present case of transport logistics. Actually, it is a field where many studies, experiments and innovations are developed within and for industrial firms. Hence, it is rather difficult to present a synthetic view of the subject: the present review is perforce made of many bits and pieces, elements which must then be chosen, calibrated and assembled in applied logistic analyses. On the basis of the business literature on logistics, this chapter first...
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