Supply chain management and logistics is taking centre stage in many companies today. Until recently the areas of warehousing and distribution have not been seen as core to a company’s operations and as a result have not always attracted the cream of management talent. Experienced managers have tended to fall into roles such supply chain manager, logistics manager and warehouse manager. Outsourcing in this area has also been popular as companies look to buy in expertise and reduce costs. Below, Gwynne Richards and Susan Grinsted argue that there is an increasing need for tools to assist the new breed of supply chain and logistics managers.
In the past, warehousing and more specifically freight transportation have been seen by the media and the population at large as necessary evils with large pantechnicons thundering up and down our high streets. Today, however, supply chains are very much in the news for both positive and negative reasons.
Supply chains are now mentioned when companies are contemplating either the closure of a production facility or the opening of a new plant and its effect on local businesses within the supply chain, such as component manufacturers and transport companies. Supply chains were also scrutinised closely when the horse meat scandal broke and during natural disasters such as the ash cloud over Iceland and the Japanese tsunami. These led to many companies having to revisit their disaster recovery plans and undertake many more risk assessments.
Introducing the concept of supply chains to a larger audience has seen an increase in the number of supply chain and logistics courses being offered by Universities and new schemes such as that launched by the University of Huddersfield and The Novus Trust, a not-for-profit educational initiative in the UK, sponsored by leading companies and inspiring tomorrow’s supply chain professionals through a 4-year Supply Chain and Logistics BSc.
Many developing countries are sending their students to European Universities, specifically to study supply chain and logistics management.