True or False? Logistic’s Careers are Simply “Boring”?

FALSE.  In fact, supply chain management and logistics is one of the fastest growing career fields in the world.  The pay is amazing, benefits are excellent, the technology is exploding, and the future of logistics is skyrocketing, literally. Yet the job itself is little known and largely undervalued by students.  Why?  It’s fair to say our perception of how a package arrives at our door is rudimentary.  A client orders a commercial good from a website, it goes to the shipper and, “Poof,” it arrives at our doorstep.  The many technological and sophistocated steps that go into the products successful arrival is what we are perceptually missing.  If you have ever ordered something, say a gift for your mother for Christmas, and it does not arrive in time for the big day; thats when supply chain management and logistics really gets noticed.  That dreaded phone call from Mom asking, “why has everyone else got a gift from you, except me!”   The act is tantamount to treason.  Regrettably, I’ve been that guy.  It turned out the shipper had accidentally kicked her package under a desk, and they didn’t find it until after New Years.

MORE 4TH JULY '10 022

If your Mother does not receive her gifts on time for Christmas, no one will be having a nice holiday.

It’s easy to say, “logistics,” but what exactly are we talking about?  Images of brown delivery trucks and huge 18 wheeler’s on the freeway usually comes to mind.  Catchy commercials for different companies stream across our televisions attempting to sauce up the services.  However, plainly stated Logistics is simply, “the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers.”  While, Supply Chain Management, is the monitoring of those goods from point A to point B.  The tools we use to move the products are usually, intermodal.  In other words, companies use a variety of resources to transport there goods.  Trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and barges, all currently contribute to the process.  However, the future is going to be much different.  Current studies have the delivery of goods to consumers at extremely high technological levels.  For instance, several years ago we were still signing for packages now a barcode simply gets scanned and sent to a server for tracking.  Operators can physically track any package, anywhere on the globe, at any given time.


The next level of sophistication may be literally, out of this world, “The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has brought together a committee of experts to address the growing trend in Space Logistics.  The AIAA defines this as the, “design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and disposition of space material.”  Furthermore, “NASA has awarded $3.8 million to two MIT engineering professors to pursue an interdisciplinary study for adapting supply chain logistics to support interplanetary material transport and transfer.  Professors David Simchi-Levi and Olivier de Weck of the MIT Engineering Systems Division will spearhead the project in partnership with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Payload Systems, and United Space Alliance.”

network logistics space

Hawthorne, CA based Space X has already taken a step in this direction.  In 2006, “SpaceX won a contract to use the Dragon spacecraft for commercially supplied resupply services to the International Space Station (ISS) for the American Federal Space Agency or NASA.” The real battle for these space logistics pioneers is not just putting a spacecraft into orbit, but more worrisome is downmass or the returning of cargo, or mass from a low-Earth orbit to Earth.  However, “After 2012, with the successful berthing of the commercially-contracted SpaceX Dragon during the Dragon C2+ mission in May 2012, and the initiation of operational cargo flights in October 2012, downmass capability from the ISS is now 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb) per Dragon flight, a service that is uniquely provided by the Dragon cargo capsule.   As of May 2014, “the SpaceX Dragon continues to be the only way scientists and engineers have to recover scientific samples and hardware for analysis on the ground.”


Meanwhile back on Earth, UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are fast becoming the low altitude version of the delivery truck.  Amazon has been the early leader in this market, though other logistics companies have performed cursory studies on the efficacy of the technology.  However, It makes tremendous business sense for to cut-out the middle man for their supply chain management and logistical needs.  In a 60 Minutes report, “Amazon’s chief, Jeffrey Bezos, showed off Amazon’s six-propeller hexacopters, he says could eventually carry small packages up to 10 miles, allowing the company to deliver goods in some areas within 30 minutes of ordering.” In the report Bezo’s adamantly declares, “It will work, and it will happen.”  The study of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is an aspect of aviation that is being given immense attention on a global scale. It is estimated that between 2015 and 2025, the UAS industry is expected to generate $82.1 billion in economic impact in the United States alone with over 100,000 jobs being created. Employment opportunities consist of pilots, systems operators, maintenance technicians, computer programmers, hardware and software developers, and manufacturers.yourfileSo while supply chain management might seem void of technological sophistication and boring, the future seems wide open.  The jobs are most certainly there.  Current reports state, “The supply chain and logistics industry is predicting the need for 1.4 million employees between the present and 2018.”  The industry is growing exponentially as the demand for materials and goods continues to increase globally, and professionals are needed to manage these demands.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the transportation and warehousing industry had 4,183,300 people employed in 2010.  This number is projected to increase to 5,036,200 by the year 2020.  A total of 98,600 transportation, storage, and distribution managers were employed in May 2012 with a mean hourly wage of $42.75 and a mean annual wage of $88,920.  These managers work in a variety of fields including warehousing and storage, general freight trucking, local government, rail transport, sea transport, bus transport, and pipeline transport. These managers also include logistics managers which specifically deal with the logistics systems.  Currently 74% of these logistics managers have a Bachelor’s degree and 17% have a Master’s.

Lewis University offers degree fields in all of these disciplines and is looking to the future of supply chain management and logistics.  So when asking yourself what degree field interests you ask yourself, “Is this career booming?” Yes. “Is this career field new and innovative?” Yes. “Is this career field going to pay off in the long run, does it have a future?” Yes.   And finally….”Is this career field boring”  Most certainly not!



About R. Eric Jones

R. Eric Jones, MS, FAA AMT, Com/Inst Pilot, AGI, is Professor of Aviation and Associate Dean in the College of Aviation, Science and Technology at Lewis University

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