The building blocks of any finished product, materials are integral for the smooth functioning of any organization’s supply chain. They range from standard raw materials and spare parts to assemblies and high-end tools & machinery that are used in an industry’s production process. Choosing the right source of material is an important consideration here as it influences the latter’s quality, price and accessibility – features that play an important role in determining whether an end product can be manufactured in abundance and if it is able to achieve its desired specifications of timely delivery, quality output, optimal pricing and customer value proposition. Equally important for an organization is the need to avoid excess or shortage of inventory by ensuring that only the right quantity and quality of material is stored in the warehouse at any point in time and is made available for use at the right time and at the right price.
Considering that manufacturing firms invest more on their materials than on any other inputs, effective management of materials becomes crucial for an organization in order to curtail its manufacturing cost and to boost its profitability and ROI (Return on Investment).
What is Materials Management?
Materials Management deals with the systematic planning, organizing, directing, control and coordination of the various activities that govern the movement of materials from their source of supply to their intended destination. The primary objective of this is to provide an uninterrupted supply of the necessary component parts that are essential for producing or delivering the final product or service. The broad field concerns every aspect of materials ranging from the timely ordering, inspection and quality control of spare parts and replacements to the logistics involved in their shipping, warehousing, distribution and disposal.
With increasing focus on environmental safety and sustainability, the need to preserve sparingly available resources and to explore renewable alternatives has gained more prominence than ever before. This field also emphasises on this area by undertaking environment-friendly measures in the form of reduction of harmful emissions and hazardous waste, recycling etc. while simultaneously enhancing the overall aesthetics of the surrounding area or locality.
Since it is a vast field, its scope often varies from one establishment to the other. Certain organizations consider the procurement of materials as one of the key responsibilities of this function while others have a separate purchasing department to oversee the sourcing activities. Many large-scale companies rely upon sophisticated ERP systems to bring in more transparency, accuracy and efficiency to their elaborate materials management process while small enterprises make do with ordinary spreadsheets for tracking and controlling their material flow.
Role of a Materials Management Professional
As a materials management professional, you can expect to be involved in any or all of the activities that comprise the end-to-end process of it. Typical roles and responsibilities include materials planning and need identification, scheduling and timely release of orders, procurement of raw materials, receipt, inspection and storage of the delivered items, inventory control, and issuance of materials and removal of scrap. Selecting appropriate vendors, sourcing best quality goods at optimal prices, maintaining cordial vendor relations, establishing standardized procedures and optimizing the demand and supply chains are few of the other responsibilities that are usually part and parcel of a materials management analyst’s job role.
Career Opportunities Post Completion of a Distance MBA in Materials Management
Since materials are non-negotiable for both private and public sectors, hence, steering your career in materials management is tantamount to rewarding job opportunities and attractive pay packages. A specialization in this field can help you bag materials management jobs in leading manufacturing firms, retail/e-commerce/supply chain/FMCG/ service/packaging/railways/shipping/aviation/logistics industries, transport & purchasing companies, government departments, defence, corporate houses and industrial establishments amongst others. You can choose to venture into operations, strategy, project management or consulting roles and explore job titles as diverse as Logistics Director, Inventory Manager, Materials Manager, Materials Analyst, Store Manager, Vendor Manager, Sourcing Manager, Supply Chain Manager, Procurement Manager, Stock and Inventory Head etc. In order to increase your chances of employment in this domain with immense potential, it is important that you equip yourself with a professional material management course from a reputed educational institute that is globally recognised and famed for its innovative course curriculum.