“Supply chain” sounds like a nice, simple line of interconnected actions, but anyone working in the field for more than, say, ten minutes knows it can be a highly complex and time-sensitive tangle. This is particularly true in manufacturing, when several raw materials might combine to make a product or several products, which in turn need to be forwarded to retailers, wholesalers or other manufacturers. Lateness or errors in orders, in such cases, is not an option.
The job of the expeditor will be to oversee entire supply chain lines and ensure that items or processes are exactly where they should be at a given time. She or he will be able to do this through digital monitoring, liaising with the personnel involved in the process and physically checking consignments in warehouses, etc. This could involve a good deal of travel, particularly with international consignments.
As well as reacting to events as they are happening, and alerting the appropriate people of problems, the expeditor will also need to look into what might be wrong with a system that has caused the issue, determine whether it was a one-off or freak occurrence, and initiate remedial actions to make sure they are not repeated.
The skills required
The task is, as the name suggests, all centred around time and organisation. It’s not enough to know where something is in a process without knowing how it interacts with other parts, so a thorough, systematic mindset and an ability to think complex processes through will be essential. This will naturally involve mathematics, so a strong aptitude in this subject will be desirable.
Making sure people understand how to keep processes moving and passing on time information will be as important as taking instructions and listening to subordinates’ explanations. Therefore superb communication skills will be required, mainly in an ability to absorb and issue information to and from different levels of the company’s hierarchy.
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