A very important dimension in the geography of freight distribution is logistics. Logistics refers to a set of activities that are geared towards the transformation and distribution of goods, from the source of raw material to the final consumers (Rodrigue & Hesse, 2010). Logistics in geographical dimension has three broad components; flows, nodes and networks. These three components work together to form the geography of freight distribution.
Flows refer to the arrangements and processes that facilitate the flow of raw materials to manufacturers, through the distribution channels until they arrive to the final consumer as finished goods (Rodrigue & Hesse, 2010). Traditional flow systems were characterized by limited storage and limited flow of information from consumer up the distribution channels. Modern flow system have changed; they have eliminated costly operations, enabled reversed flow of materials in the distribution channel mainly through recycling and product return and concentration of storage in one facility.
Nodes refer to areas, terminal or facilities in which logistic functions of particular freight operations are concentrated (Rodrigue & Hesse, 2010). This may be such as; large warehouse facilities, major airports or sea ports or major highway intersections. These nodes are characterized by connection to regional and long- distance places and therefore acting as intersections for goods. They serve to facilitate easier flow of good by providing a center for logistical operations.
Networks refer to the transportation networks that facilitate delivery of raw materials to manufacturers and of final goods to the consumer (Rodrigue & Hesse, 2010). These networks link the manufacturers and final consumers of goods to large freight catchment, usually of trans-national status. These networks take three tiers of operation; regional, national and international distribution centers. Modern networks have been developed to incorporate requirements of integrated freight transport demand.
Rodrigue J. & Hesse M. (2010). Logistics and Freight Distribution. April 7, 2011. Available at http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch5en/conc5en/ch5c4en.html