Movement of goods increasingly tied to evolving human skill factors

Contact: Maridith Geuder

Training and communication are among the most pressing future needs for persons working in various logistical fields, according to two Mississippi State University researchers.

Stephen A. Lemay and Jon C. Carr recently completed a two-year study for the Council of Logistics Management, a national not-for-profit organization of some 15,000-members based in Oak Brook, Ill. Lemay is a marketing professor; Carr, a research scientist at the Social Science Research Center.

Lemay and Carr predict that logistics--which includes warehousing, inventory, transportation, purchasing, and customer service functions-"will depend heavily in the future on adaptability and human resource development."

They studied the organizational structures and development needs of 43 logistics organizations, including more than a dozen Mississippi companies. The results is included in "The Growth and Development of Logistics Personnel," a 474-page guide recently issued by CLM to help members identify job requirements, competencies and training needs.

Through surveys and interviews with more than 600 industry professionals, the MSU researchers examined interpersonal relationships, decision-making processes, required tools and equipment, and the work environment of specific jobs. The information may be compared to a national database of 8,000 jobs to establish baseline information for the logistics industry.

"While there's been a reliance in the past on technology in logistics, we discovered that human resource development and training are equally important," Lemay said.

The researchers also found that interpersonal skills are needed at every level of distribution, whether a warehouse or executive suite. As a result, proper training should include communication, human resource and self-management skills to assure effective employees in all areas of the organization.

Among other key findings:

--Managers should commit to formal training systems and programs as key elements in creating organizational advantages.

--Employee training should develop a common view of the organization's logistics system, with multiple training sources employed to meet complex system needs.

--Operating- and executive-level jobs are expanding.

--Purchasing, inventory control and customer service, meanwhile, are diminishing as distinct functions, with some traditional functions being automated or assumed by warehousing, material control, transportation, or executive staffs.

Mississippi companies participating in the study included (by city):

COLUMBIA--Bill's Dollar Stores Inc.

COLUMBUS--American Nonwovens and Microtek Medical.

FULTON--Ferguson Enterprises Inc.

GRENADA--Newsprint South Inc.

JACKSON--Frito-Lay Inc. and C.H. Robinson Co.

LAUREL--Ferry Transportation Inc. and Howard Industries Inc.

MERIDIAN--Alply Inc.

STARKVILLE--BancorpSouth/Bank of Mississippi and Garan Manufacturing Corp.

TUPELO--Action/Lane Industries.

WEST POINT--Royal Trucking.

Mon, 04/17/2000 - 05:00