In a production company, a materials analyst checks to make sure the materials and supplies used in manufacturing work well. If you are detail-oriented and want to develop a career in inventory or supply chain management, this position is a great stepping stone. A degree in supply chain management or transportation and logistics is helpful in this field.
One of the main duties for a materials analyst is to assess the materials needs for production and to develop inventory plans. This task is often completed with division or department managers in a manufacturing business. The plan typically spells out projected needs for various raw materials and supplies for several months or a year. This critical planning step helps the analyst make the necessary contacts with suppliers to gauge pricing and availability.
The materials analyst often works with the purchasing manager or director to research materials and supply costs. With a plan in hand, the analyst can get rate sheets from multiple suppliers to find out per unit costs and rates with bulk discounts. Over time, analysts also look into alternative materials if a supplier raises prices. Combining material plans with cost research duties, the analyst also watches for variance in costs for certain materials at different times of the year.
Quality assurance is another central role of the materials analyst. Materials used in production typically must meet specific standards. A manufacturer with a quality reputation, for instance, wants to ensure all materials meet quality standards and specifications. The analyst does routine checks on materials and supplies that arrive at the facility to ensure they meet the stated specifications related to factors such as size, width, length, weight and texture.
The materials analyst also plays a role within the company's inventory control system. This is the entire process of ordering inventory, storing it and pulling it for use in production. The analyst may monitor inventory processes and production efficiency to ensure consistency or improvement. Analysts also commonly complete inventory reports for managers that show inventory plans, actual orders and materials-in-inventory compared to materials-in-production.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.