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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.


The work

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.


The skills

Manufacturing logistics requires a wide range of skills:

  • Planning
  • Numeracy
  • 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

Entry requirements

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.


Employers

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 aerospace
  • Pharmaceuticals and chemicals
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Process manufacturing – paper, glass, furniture, glass
  • Biotechnology
  • Polymers

Contacts

Several professional bodies and trade associations cover this sector:

  • www.ciltuk.org.uk The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport is the leading professional association for those involved in all aspects of logistics and transport.
  • www.iomnet.org.uk 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.
  • www.ame-uk.org Association for Manufacturing Excellence - is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping companies with continuous improvement and their pursuit of excellence
  • www.bema.co.uk 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:

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