In this column, I would like to introduce the concept of Intralogistics as the new mantra for Materials Management. APICS defines Materials Management as “the grouping of management functions supporting the complete cycle of material flow, from the purchase and internal control of production materials to the planning and control of work in process to the warehousing, shipping, and distribution of the finished product.”

Intralogistics is a recent European term that describes the internal flow of materials between different logistics nodes within a company. Conceptually, Intralogistics includes the set of logistical activities necessary to find, purchase, receive, store, process, issue, and deliver materials. This same set of functional activities is involved in controlling both the flow of resources and the associated data into and out of the logistical operating system. In today’s global supply chain, the efficient and effective allocation of logistical resources is a challenge common to all organizations. Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the need to allocate their logistical resources, through the implementation of the Intralogistics concept, to maximize profits or budgets, improve customer service, establish needed controls, and reduce costs.

Intralogistics consists of the following logistics functional activities:

- Purchasing - The responsibility to source, contract, negotiate, and procure materials, equipment, supplies, services, etc. while maintaining a viable supplier base
- Receiving and Stores - The responsibility for activities related to inbound transport, receiving, inspection, storing, handling, issuing and controlling stock and inventory
- Inventory Management - Includes activities and techniques required to maintain materials, products, and supplies at desired stocking levels
- Material Control - Directing or regulating the movement of materials through the entire manufacturing, processing, or conversion cycle from beginning to end
- Materials Handling - The functional and organizational design pertaining to the flow and movement of materials and supplies throughout the organization’s facilities
- Distribution and Transportation - Encompasses all the operations in the movement and flow of finished goods to include inventory control, warehousing, order processing, and outbound transport.

In the framework of Supply Chain Management, Intralogistics controls the material flow along the complete value-added chain. Just like Materials Management, Intralogistics is an organizational concept that fosters a total systems approach to plan, acquire, store, move, and control materials, supplies, parts, work-in-process, and finished or consumable goods in order to optimize all organizational resources. 

In conclusion, Materials Management typically is concerned with the regulation of the flow of material to, within, and from the organization. Since Intralogistics covers a wide spectrum of varied activities, totally committed to providing a smooth flow from suppliers to operations/production/maintenance then to internal and/or external customers, perhaps it’s time to retire the term Materials Management.

What do you think? Out With the Old, In With the New?

This article part of the monthly series authored by ISM’s Logistics & Transportation Group Board Members, who are current practitioners, consultants and educators. In future columns they will continue sharing their views on a number of Supply Chain topics. 

Thomas L. Tanel, CTL, C.P.M., CISCM, is the President and CEO of CATTAN Services Group, Inc., specializing in Logistics and Supply Chain issues. He is also the Chair of ISM’s Logistics & Transportation Group and can be reached at or (979) 260-7200. Membership in the Group is open to all ISM members who are responsible for or have an interest in the Logistics & Transportation fields.