In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to LPR’s Region North Managing Director Adrian Fleming about the company, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, how working remotely has produced efficiencies, the increased importance of supply continuity and a future powered by robotics & AI…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
LPR UK is a subsidiary of LPR – La Palette Rouge, a leading pan European, pallet pooling business working in the FMCG sector. The business is present in 15 countries and moves more than 107 million pallets per year.
What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Without a doubt, Brexit and Covid-19.
The changes required for businesses to be able to move their goods post-Brexit meant that LPR has had to make significant investment in new equipment, processes and procedures to continue to provide industry leading pallets. Without this, our customers would not have been able to continue to move their products and we would not have been able to deliver the service that they expect from us.
Covid-19’s impact gave us a bit of a double-whammy. Our customers produce food, grocery and household goods – including cereals and toilet roll – so demand for our pallets increased exponentially, and we needed to make sure that we were able to meet this demand whilst safely supporting our office based people in a move to working from home.
The fact that we met customer demand while we carried out this move really demonstrates just how amazing our people are. They were flexible, resilient and got the job done – no matter what!
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
The move to working from home showed us that there were other ways of doing what we do. We could use technology to become more efficient, and at the same time offer a better work/life balance with the removal of the daily commute.
What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?
As the world comes out of lockdown, I think continuity is going to become ever more important. Demand for raw materials is at an all time high, so ensuring continuity of supply is going to become critical.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?
One of the fundamental changes we saw during lockdown was the move to increased eCommerce. I think that this is a powerful change in the supply chain that will never fully be reversed, so we need to prepare for how this will evolve further.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
Robotics and AI in automation – particularly in eCommerce environments, but also across all FMCG.
In 2024 we’ll all be talking about…?
2020 and 2021 – the years where we adapted to a pandemic by making some really significant step changes in our lives – how there was more consideration of what adds value and how we used the benefits of technology to stay in touch and to reduce our environmental impact.
Which person in, or associated with, the Supply Chain industry would you most like to meet?
Jeff Bezos – founder and CEO of Amazon. It would be fascinating to hear what he thinks Amazon’s future will look like and how they plan to make it happen.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?
Just how under-appreciated it was. It gives us food, vaccines, pharmaceuticals – yet until the pandemic, most people had no consideration for how these things made their way into their lives.
Seeing workers in the supply chain receiving ‘key worker’ status underlined just how important the sector is. We should be more vocal about it.
You go to the bar at the Total Supply Chain Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
A glass of a good Sauvignon Blanc.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
The opportunity to work with and welcome great people to our business. It’s not just our pallets which are industry leading.
And what’s the most challenging?
Balancing the demands on my time whilst trying to ensure a good work / life balance. I have a great team so that definitely makes things easier.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Trust in people to do their jobs – and get on with your own. Trust begets trust.
Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?
Neither unfortunately, I’d rather watch a good film!