The concept of materials management is relatively simple: to coordinate the procurement and distribution of services, materials or equipment. Even though the overall concept is simple, the task itself can be challenging and incredibly complicated for larger companies. Anticipating future needs, assessing risks and planning complex logistical operations are just a few of the many skills required of materials managers.

The Essential Role of Materials Managers

The materials management team creates value for their employer by leveraging information and company assets to stabilize supply chains throughout the organization. They develop a network of suppliers to ensure they have access to operational essentials, as well as the ability to shop around for good prices. Managers also coordinate the transport and storage of materials, equipment or supplies throughout the company.

They need to account for potential fluctuations in local demand or usage, anticipate the needs of each department in advance and schedule all of these deliveries with room for error at every stage. Managers plan all of these logistical operations to prevent loss of productivity while accounting for local storage capabilities, lifespan of materials and special handling instructions for various items.

Innovative and Integrative Management Solutions

Recent technological developments, particularly those in computers and information technology, has revolutionized the way materials managers work. When it comes to logistical planning and coordination, there is no substitute for a unified and updated database for managing information. In fact, our experienced materials management team uses an advanced, proprietary cargo and materials software solution to track shipments, generate reports, manage charter information and much more.

The recent management trend toward data-oriented decision making has also made an impact on logistical operations and planning. The technology to create and expand databases with massive amounts of information puts unparalleled power at the fingers of data scientists and statisticians. Successfully curating and applying data gives companies an amazing tool for eliminating waste, identifying opportunities and assessing risk. Predictive modeling is particularly useful in anticipating the potential needs of the company in the years ahead.

The People Behind the Machines

Ultimately, technological solutions and innovations in the field of materials management are only useful if team members know how to use them. Employees in many companies don’t make efficient or full use of software tools simply because they don’t know how. Consistent staff development and skill modernization are essential for long-term success in any department, especially one that relies on digital tools.

Technology has also transformed other aspects of materials management, including the ability to network and connect with key contacts. This means management teams should be comfortable with mobile technology and have the ability to communicate seamlessly across platforms. Materials management is all about updated information, clear communication and strategic thinking, so the entire team needs to have technology-savvy communications skills.

Never Stop Improving Management Processes

Not all companies can embrace every technological breakthrough that pops up on the market. However, managers and company leaders have to take a proactive stance when it comes to adopting new technology. Some of these recent developments allow management teams to plan with higher accuracy, coordinate seamlessly across sprawling structures and adapt to changes that could impact the entire company.

At EPS, we help you take the guesswork out of logistics and shorebase operations by providing access to real-time information about the location, status and compliance of your shipments—all in one, easy-to-use portal. Our expert team of dispatchers and coordinators work with your organization to ensure you have the right team in place to successfully execute the job or project, while offering continuous improvements to your processes that streamline your operations and increase profitability. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you easily and efficiently manage your supply chain.