A supply chain for a major company is so complex that it encompasses hundreds of job categories. We will discuss a few of the major job categories, why they are important to the supply chain and what jobs are going to be hot in the next decade. Many careers in supply begin with entry-level jobs, as is true in most businesses. Clerks and machine operators and payroll personnel work to gain experience. Each plays a role in the welfare of their companies.
Let’s take the employment opportunities in the supply chain in five main categories: purchasing, personnel, production/maintenance, warehousing/shipping and department management. While selling/marketing is a vital cog in every manufacturing business, we will not include sales positions here.
Buying goods and services for a business is generally the first and most direct link with the supply chain. Buyers develop close relationships with vendors, not just buying items but contracting for inventory levels and contingency services. Purchasing makes agreements for vendor managed inventory. They develop or implement buying levels and manage paperwork. Accounts payable may or may not be part of purchasing, and is an important part of the direct buying department.
Those who hire and fire are powerful individuals in the plant. They generally have formal education in how to carry out this vital function. Personnel, often known as Human Resources Department or HR, often has people who moved up from other jobs in the plant and know the business and its worker needs very well. The hiring specialist plays a key supply chain role by hiring managers who know how to continuously improve systems.
Skilled machine workers are at a premium today. True machinists are becoming rare as the CNC (computer numerically controlled) environment becomes more common and sophisticated. Today, plants people who can understand and operate these giant metalworking machines. A good machine operator uses all his senses, including smell, to know when a machine is operating perfectly. He can quickly check quality part-to-part while keeping the line moving at peak efficiency. Machine operators may have higher education or be plant trained.
Inventory control of both the plant’s products and the vast number of purchased products is a big responsibility. Most of the operations of shipping and allocation of parts is controlled by computers. These jobs require a great memory and often formal education. Plant inventory is operated under strict supply chain just-in-time rules, so every warehousing employee should be an expert at zero defects. They must also be very familiar with dangerous materials and their storage and use. Most must also be familiar with shipping and receiving rules and regulations.
Managers must first be personnel people. The good manager is a good “people person.” Each manager should know his area better than anyone else, and managers of departments in supply chains need to motivate his employees to constantly search for problems to solve and areas to improve. Managers in logistics and warehousing are experts in keeping timetables. Managers on the production floor are generally experienced machine operators or toolmakers. Personnel managers are experts in motivation and human nature. As far as the supply chain is concerned, quality starts with the best parts at the right time and in the right place. Logistics, machining and warehousing all need managers committed to being the best.
There are many more jobs in the chain: experienced customer service people can save orders and customers; other communications and electrical personnel keep everything running smoothly; maintenance and janitorial employees make sure everyone is safe and the areas are clean. They all play important parts in the supply system by quickly knowing what parts and supplies they need and putting orders in correctly, keeping the supply chain oiled like a fine machine.
We will have more supply chain articles in the coming weeks. Browse our Career section for details on specific jobs.
OperationsManager.com Supply Chain Specialist