Supply Chain Careers
What does a career in Supply Chain Management look like? The Supply Chain is a big part of any business and it includes all the operational functions within that business such as Procurement, Logistics, Warehousing, Planning, Manufacturing, and Customer Service. Within each of these functions, there are many careers that one can follow to reach the point of becoming a Supply Chain Leader.
By choosing a path within one of these functions, you have an opportunity to learn and strive for a leadership role.
The function of procurement includes the sourcing of new suppliers, sourcing of new products, managing the performance of existing suppliers as well as the role of purchasing. The procurement team has the important role of ensuring that the quality of products purchased by the business remains of the highest standards, that the prices the business are paying are right, that the goods are delivered on time and at the right place. There are many job functions within the disciple of procurement and starting as a buyer as building your knowledge could gain you the position of Procurement Director or Strategic Sourcing Lead.
The handling of raw materials is a specialised job. Raw materials are normally purchased in bulk quantities and often require some method of cutting or decanting before they can be issued to production. Take steel plates using in the manufacture of refrigerators as an example. The Bill of Material may only call for a portion of the steel plate and so this must be cut before being issued. Materials Management requires skills in mathematics and space utilisation to ensure the best use of the warehouse space available for raw materials. A career in Materials Management could start as a forklift driver but end up in a management position responsible for all raw material needed for production.
Production is at the heart of any manufacturing business and the need to have the right products at the right time to meet customer demands is vital. If the right products are not available to sell, then the business does not make any money. Production relies on accurate Bills of Material and accurate inventory levels in order to manufacture their products. This makes the co-dependency on other functions in the supply chain so important. A Master Production Scheduler has an extremely important role to ensure that the capacity and resources available to production as used efficiently. An operator in a production facility can aspire to become a Master Scheduler or a Manufacturing Manager by building on skills and developing themselves.
Finished Goods Warehousing
As goods come off the production line, they need to be stored before they are sold. An efficient supply chain will only make the products that are needed by customers to avoid having too much inventory in stock. Keeping accurate records and maintaining a clean and efficient warehouse requires attention to detail and excellent management skills. By focusing on quick turnaround times for put-away and picking, a warehouse can be a highly efficient place of work. Tools like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are used for planning and activity control. A career in Warehousing can take a picker/packer to the level of Warehouse Manager or Systems Administrator.
Goods being prepared for delivery to the customer falls under the control of the distribution function. This includes picking, packing, staging and load planning. The picking function itself can be a highly sophisticated function using automated processes like pick to light and even using robotics to pick items in the warehouse. Technology management in the warehouse provides an excellent career opportunity for an aspiring person. Ensuring that the correct products are picked and delivered at the right time to meet the demands of the customer is a very important role. By developing your skills, you can strive for a role as a Distribution Manager.
The actually delivery of goods to the customer is included under logistics. There are many companies which specialise in this field and provide this as an outsourced service to their clients. The function of logistics includes route planning, transport management, load optimisation and the delivery cycle. Transport or route planning requires an analytical mind and is a skilled job. So many things can go wrong and the planner must ensure the smooth delivery of the goods. The Logistics Manager is ultimately responsible for the customer receiving the correct goods at the right time and relies heavily on the team that provides the skills to meet this goal.
Customer Service is responsible for all customer complaints and problems. The people who work in customer services must be level-headed and excellent communicators to handle the customer in a way that makes them feel special. A career in customer service can lead to Account Management for aspiring people. Dealing with customers can be extremely rewarding and solving problems on a daily basis can make a job really worthwhile.
Demand Planning and Forecasting
The function of demand planning and forecasting is an overarching function which brings the whole supply chain together. Demand Planners look at the demand for products and make recommendations on what raw materials need to be purchased and at what time. Demand Planners are responsible for the forecast and for predicting what the customer will purchase. They feed this information to production so that they know what to make and when to make it. If the Demand Planners make the wrong assumptions or if the information that they have available to them is inaccurate, a business can end up with a warehouse full of unusable inventory. Demand planning is completely reliant on accurate information being available throughout the supply chain such as inventory level of both raw material and finished goods, bills of material, sales information, supplier lead times and availability, manufacturing resources and capacity etc. The Demand Planner often goes on to become Supply Chain Manager and starting a career in supply chain management could lead to this path being achieved.
As we can see, there are many career opportunities in the field of supply chain management. To achieve a leadership role in any one of these fields required the right attitude and the right skills. Attitude comes from within and the skills can be developed through training and education. Look on our website for the course that is going to serve your career aspirations the best.