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What does an Operations Planner do?

20/07/2016

Freight forwarding involves moving goods on behalf of importers and exporters across the globe. An Operations Planner is responsible for planning and controlling the freight forwarding process from end-to-end, checking for any potential issues to avoid any problems or delays. When it comes to complex logistics, having a quick-thinking, logical, problem-solving mind is a real bonus. Being able to spot and fix issues before they arise is a day-to-day challenge. From arranging one pallet right through to a full load of goods, an Operations Planner will join the dots to deliver seamless freight forwarding services to their clients.

One of the most interesting aspects of being an Operations Planner is working with international companies to build strong relationships with contacts, ensuring the smooth handling of freight at all times.

If you’re considering working as an Operations Planner, you’re more than likely going to be working for a trailer operator. If this is the case, you will be planning and controlling all road and transport operations, often across the continent and sometimes around the world. Ultimately, you will be providing freight solutions to ensure your clients receive goods on-time and to schedule.

Listed below are a few useful skills and traits for becoming an Operations Planner:

  • Deadline-driven – with no room for manoeuvre, you will be working to immovable deadlines connecting shipping to freight forwarders. This is likely to include working in line with your clients’ Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • Profit-driven – you’ll need to spot any gaps or opportunities where the profit margin and efficiencies can be increased, always striving for better turnover for the business.
  • Communication – you’ll be called upon at times to explain fairly complex logistics problems as clearly as possible to potentially less knowledgeable individuals. Plus, you may also be asked to write up any scenarios too, so being able to communicate well both written and verbally is vital.
  • Knowledge – a thorough understanding of road transport and freight forwarding regulations is key, especially full and part-load road operations in the UK and Europe. See these useful links for more information on UK freight forwarding, European regulations and ADR requirements.
  • European languages are often a bonus, such as French or German, as you could find yourself liaising regularly with European clients.

To become an Operations Planner, you’ll need relevant industry experience in domestic and international road transport (usually 3-5 years depending on the level of responsibility).  Other useful traits include strong analytical and numerical skills. You will need to be good at problem-solving and you will usually be expected to have operational experience of transport processes and planning methods.

What’s more, an Operations Planner must always be at the ready to avert any difficult situations, which could arise should one part of the process break down. This might be due to shipping delays, Customs or trailer issues. There’s always something interesting going on in freight forwarding!

Interested in becoming an Operations Planner? Call 01905 770337 today.

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