These days, not all is quiet on the logistics front. Businesses at every stage of the supply chain are increasingly hard pressed to meet the relentless demands of customer expectations. In the race to get commodities and finished products to market as quickly as possible, manufacturers, transport companies and distributors alike are running against the clock. As fulfillment of orders placed via e-commerce becomes increasingly competitive, logistics services are teaming up to expedite shipments over the so-called “last one mile,” speeding up the transaction process from next-day deliveries to same-day deliveries. Or in some cases, the waiting time from order to receipt can be measured in hours.
And almost certainly, an even more amazing future awaits. Recent business publications have been flooded with articles about how automated vehicles, robots and drones can be expected to transform the flow of goods. Nevertheless, the basic formula for mass transport of commodities and merchandise from one place to another has yet to undergo drastic change. In places like Tokyo's Narita International Airport, the eighth busiest air cargo terminal in the world; in the bustling port of Houston, Texas; in Vancouver, Canada; and in Hong Kong these and other centers on the front lines of distribution people and goods are on the move 24/7. And on the job at almost every stage of the supply chain you can find forklifts, which stand out as a basic and essential cog in the logistics process.