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What does an Expediter do?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An expediter has three primary responsibilities: reviewing purchasing contracts related to the delivery of goods, arranging for just in time delivery, and meeting strict deadlines. Expediters are responsible for controlling the shipment of parcels within a specific time frame. In general, expediters work for a company with a large amount of materials moving in and out. These materials are either perishable or delivery needs to be coordinated due to space limitations. Expediters are commonly found in the construction and food preparation industries.

People who enjoy a challenge, are naturally outgoing and enjoy a significant amount of social interaction in their work report the greatest satisfaction as an expediter. As an expediter, you will meet with clients, suppliers, and delivery firms. The ability to interact with others while communicating clearly and effectively is very important.

Regardless of the type of firm, the expediter is responsible for managing the timing of delivery. This is crucial to the smooth operation of the firm, as well as the ability to keep costs low. They are usually involved in the purchasing contract process, adding clauses and requirements surrounding the delivery of goods and any penalties for failure to perform as contracted.

Arranging just in time delivery is a complex process. Although the requirement may be included in the contract, it is necessary to actually schedule the delivery closer to the date the product is required. Information regarding the loading dock, delivery time window, any documentation required, and the contact person on site must all be communicated as part of the process. An error in timing will result in overcrowding on the site, and delivery trucks waiting to offload their goods. These delays will increase costs and may delay work.

An expediter typically works for a large company, with multiple simultaneous projects. In this line of work, timing is everything. A network of connections is a huge help, allowing the expediter to use the most efficient method to deliver the materials. For example, if a shipment of windows must arrive on the job site on a specific date, but the firm is unable to arrange it, the expediter must make alternate arrangements to ensure the delivery occurs on schedule. The ability to quickly access this network and make the required arrangements is critical in this job.

The expediter is also responsible for managing the delivery aspect of the project. This may require following up with suppliers in advance of delivery dates, meeting with site supervisors, and talking with the project management. Any issues, delays, or concerns must be addressed immediately. Managing the contract, keeping track of issues, ensuring that costs do not increase unexpectedly, and following up on complaints are all an important part of an expediter's job.

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Discussion Comments

By Misscoco — On May 19, 2011

@PinkLady4 - That's too bad that your nephew is having a hard time with his expediting job. My neighbor also works as an expediter. He works in the food industry. That guy loves to talk about his job. He tells stories and jokes about how he has to scramble to meet deadlines. "Wouldn't want those folks to go hungry," he says.

If your nephew doesn't like working with other people, or with deadlines and stress, maybe another kind of job would be better. Maybe getting into a support position, even in the same industry, would bring more job satisfaction.

By PinkLady4 — On May 17, 2011

My nephew's wife tells me that he comes home from work dog tired. He's an expediter for a kitchen and bath cabinet company. His wife says he is always stressed out and doesn't seem to enjoy his job. He does make good money and has good health benefits.

I hate to interfere, but I think his health may be affected by the pressure of his job. Maybe he would do better in a different kind of job. I've been thinking about this for the past year and so has his wife.

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