A Career in Manufacturing Logistics
Manufacturing is still a significant part of the British economy, accounting for
over 25% of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product. After a couple of years of
stagnation or decreases, early 2012 saw some signs of growth, with further growth
anticipated in the second quarter, so there is some room for optimism in the
sector. Manufacturing logistics keeps production flowing by analysing or
forecasting demand, optimising throughput to meet customer requirements and deadlines,
sizing resources requirements, materials flows and logistics, organising maintenance,
quality planning, measurement and control.
With such a broad remit it is clear that working in manufacturing logistics can
involve a range of activities from the initial setting up of a manufacturing operation,
to introducing new products or technology to improving productivity and cost and
implementing quality management systems. It is a challenging environment
requiring the co-ordination of raw materials sourcing and delivery often from overseas
and controlling the production of the final product through to storage and delivery to
the final customer. Getting each stage in the process right and at the right
price is the key to an organisation’s economic success.
Manufacturing logistics requires a wide range of skills:
- Analytical abilities and
strong problem solving skills
- Ability to see the bigger
picture and good organisational skills
- IT skills – including
specialist business software such as modelling tools and resource planning tools
- Communication skills –
written and verbal
It is possible to enter the profession straight from school or college either via
direct entry to an employer or by taking up one of the apprenticeship opportunities
that exist in manufacturing, so it is worth visiting the Apprenticeship websites to see
what is available (there are separate sites for each of the four nations):
There is a range of graduate opportunities with manufacturing companies and these
are mostly advertised either directly via the company’s own website or via a
dedicated graduate recruitment website.
Salary and career development
Salary levels will vary according to the job role. On qualification,
apprentices will earn from £10-14,000 depending on the occupational pathway
followed, and the salary for graduate schemes with retailers, manufacturers and third
party logistics providers is in the range £18-25,000.
Membership of a relevant professional body is designed to support individuals as
they progress up the career ladder, providing a variety of opportunities to network and
to acquire professional qualifications. There are specialist degrees at
undergraduate and post-graduate level, which provide the academic background to support
and inform practical experience.
The prospects are excellent, with senior logistics roles in manufacturing
organisations commanding salaries of £100,000 and over for the right candidate
with the right skills, qualifications and experience.
Although it is often reported that manufacturing is in decline in the UK, there is
still a market for manufacturing logistics skills across the following sectors:
- Food and drink
- Automotive and
- Clothing and
manufacturing – paper, glass, furniture, glass
Several professional bodies and trade associations cover this sector:
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport is the leading professional
association for those involved in all aspects of logistics and transport.
Institute of Operations Management is the principal UK professional society for
operations management in manufacturing, service industries and the public sector.
- www.eef.org.uk the
Manufacturers' Organisation dedicated to the future of manufacturing in the UK.
Association for Manufacturing Excellence - is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated
to helping companies with continuous improvement and their pursuit of excellence
British Engineering Manufacturers' Association is a trade association serving the wider
engineering and manufacturing community.
Several Sector Skills Councils (SSC) have responsibility for different areas of
manufacturing and it is worth visiting their careers pages, which include profiles and
links to sector-specific professional bodies and trade associations: