Different definitions describe the term "logistics” in scientific literature. One approach aims to convey the life cycle orientation of logistics processes. The term “life cycle” embodies the idea that a certain product entails different, interrelated logistical actions during its economic life-time.

Life cycle thinking means to plan the phases of a product’s life-time in agreement with the supply chain partners according to economic and ecological criteria. This refers to coordination, support, and management activities that ensure the efficient use of goods as well as the intelligent input of resources during initiation, planning, production, operation, and the final stage of the goods’ economic life-time (see figure 1). Structuring of the information flow has become an additional element of logistics during the whole life cycle of a product (Pfohl [Logistiksysteme 2003]).

  Figure 1: Different stages of a product’s life cycle

Today’s complexity of supply chains causes an increased input of time, effort, and resources. The result is high costs as well as a high impact on the environment.

Life cycle logistics treats logistics processes along the economic life-time of a product as one continuous stream rather than separate streams of independent stages. Product life cycle logistics consists of forward as well as reverse logistics activities and thus, consider how actions in one stage provide insight for better managing downstream stages.

This approach helps companies to avoid fragmented supply chains, allows them to make prompt decisions, and reduces excess time as well as handling costs. Increased agility and faster movements of products improve the performance of the supply chain in the short and in the long term, while the total cost of product ownership decreases. Simultaneously, products move less and facilities are planned more exactly and utilized more efficiently as services are consolidated and synchronized (GENCO ATC [Lifecycle 2012]).