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Logistics managers are employees involved in coordinating the movement of materials along a supply chain. In business, this includes procuring raw goods, liaising with manufacturers and overseeing shipments of finished products to retailers and consumers. For other, non-business organizations, such as the military or an NGO (non-governmental organization), this may involve handling the movement of people or equipment.
Before a logistics manager can decide how to ship material, he must first know what he has. Logistics managers are responsible for keeping track of the current inventory of an organization, as well as anticipating the organization's future needs. If the organization is low on a particular material, it falls to the logistics manager to order more.
In keeping with her tracking of an organization's inventory, a logistics manager must efficiently allocate and apportion her resources. Resources should be allocated in a way that maximizes the completion of both current and future goals. This requires the logistician to keep apprised of the organization's central objectives.
Logistics managers must make sure that all parties along the supply chain are prepared to ship and receive their materials at the appointed date and time. This responsibility includes making sure that all parties are on schedule and, if not, compensating for the change.
Negotiating With Carriers
While some organizations, such as the military, may have their own transportation and delivery system, most will be forced to rely on the services of independent carriers. The logistics manager is required to coordinate with carriers for the shipping of people and goods, including understanding the carrier's capabilities and negotiating the best rate.
Supervision of Staff
Logistics managers usually have a number of administrative staff that they must supervise. This includes properly training staff, setting clear objectives, monitoring their performance and making sure they are complying with all relevant laws and safety procedures.
Maintenance and Repairs
Logistics managers are also responsible for making sure the materials and goods being moved remain in good condition. This includes making sure the methods by which the materials are shipped will not damage them and, if equipment is damaged, repairing it.
A good logistics manager will plan according to the best information available to him, but will always be prepared to adjust if conditions shift. Managers should therefore develop different contingency plans based on likely changes.
Cost Cutting and Efficiency
Logistics managers should always be on the lookout for opportunities for the organization to save money and increase efficiency through the use of different methods or services, such as cheaper carriers.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.
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