What is a logistic flow?

A logistic flow refers to the organizational efficacy allocated to the activities or operations in a warehouse (from production to distribution), with a view to reducing waste. Logistic flows are also known as “value chains”, “activity chains” or “supply chains”.

Logistic flows are divided into two categories (internal and external). Internal flows make reference to the circulation of materials during the supply chain’s production and transformation processes. External flows are subdivided into two types of flows:

  • Supply flows, designating a supply process that goes from the supplier to the distributor.

  • Upstream flows, referring to the supply of (semi-finished) products from the production warehouse to the customer’s warehouse.

Characteristics of the different types of logistic flows

Depending on the transport method chosen, there are 4 types of logistic flows:

  • Push flows: production method based on provisional demand, to improve the company’s logistic management efficacy. Production is stored whilst waiting for demand to come in.

  • Pull flow systems: production method essentially based on the logic of demand. Dispatch or production are triggered only when the customer’s demand or order comes in, to reduce storage fees as much as possible.

  • Just-in-time flows: this method combines “push flows” and “pull flows”, with a view to storing as few products as possible in the warehouse (to reduce costs).

  • Synchronized flows: supply logistics are governed by production processes. The components are brought in at the precise moment they are needed in the production process (delayed delivery of certain materials or components can thus have disastrous consequences).

Examples and practical applications

Optimizing the supply chain through proper flow management presents countless advantages. Optimal flow management limits waste and prevents useless expenses. Consequence: the resources at play in the supply chain’s various stages are used in an optimized manner - whether during the supply, production or distribution phase. Several types of waste can be distinguished when looking at the various phases of an industrial supply chain:

  • Over-production (production is higher than demand, with a faster production rate);

  • Long lead times (waiting time between the different stages of the process);

  • Useless handling and transport activities (leading to loss of time);

  • Inappropriate handling (useless machining);

  • Unused stock;

  • Useless transport and movements in the working area;

  • Manufacturing defects (requiring operations to correct them).

Mapping out the supply chain: a method used to improve logistic flow efficacy

This methodology presents the different stages required for providing a product, in the form of a diagram. Visualization helps quickly identify any factors that could lead to waste or delays in production, throughout a company or organization’s supply chain.

The different activities are listed, using simple pictograms, to draw our attention to:

  • How lead times are established (production lead times, stoppage duration);

  • How quality is assessed (number of deformed or deteriorated products);

  • How intermediary products are assessed; 

  • How maintenance and transport costs are assessed (both are related);

  • How resources are used (quantitative assessment).

Logistic flows in figures

Logistics are an essential part of both society and companies. They are a fundamental link within a business circuit. In France, they represent 10% of the country’s GDP, i.e. 200 billion euros in turnover, and generate close to 1.8 million jobs.

(Source: https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/france-logistique-2025)