Supply chain

Have you ever wondered how the products we use every day make it to our homes? Dozens of companies can contribute to making sure something is available for us to buy at a store or order for delivery online. These companies employ people in supply chain management jobs to make sure they have the right materials available at the right time to make the products that consumers want. They also need employees to figure out the best and most efficient way to ship those products to stores and consumers.

The need for people working in supply chain management is growing as companies look to save money moving products as efficiently as possible. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates jobs in this area will grow 8% by 2028 in Wisconsin with median salaries around $59,400. Four-year and two-year schools, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, Blackhawk Technical College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, have programs in supply chain management.

Raw materials:

The products we use every day start as raw materials like metal, plastic resins, food commodities or fabrics.

Transportation phase:

Raw materials are transported to factories by a variety of methods, including boat, train, airplane and truck.


Most manufacturers don’t actually make the final product we see. Instead, many companies specialize in making components or parts that go into a final product.


Each method of transportation has benefits and drawbacks. An airplane may be faster, but costs more. A train may be cheaper, but a truck can take the product to a specific destination.

Assembly & distribution:

All of the parts and components made by factories eventually come together for final assembly and distribution.


Many companies employ people to coordinate shipping and receiving products and materials. These people don’t work directly on products but are critical to keeping a business moving.

Retail & e-commerce:

Once products are finished, they are shipped to retailers or warehouses for distribution.


When consumers finally buy products, it is the end of a complex process that benefits from companies knowing what to make and how to ship it.