In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Richard Aldridge, National Accounts Manager at UniCarriers UK, about the company, the joint impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit, market opportunities and the potential for automation…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
UniCarriers have been a global supplier of forklift trucks for over 50 years. We are totally committed to developing the most cost-effective materials handling and storage solutions for our customers. Our ultimate goal is to match operational requirements with materials handling solutions. We have an extensive product portfolio that enables us to fully consider the options without having to streamline our proposals due to a limited product range.
What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Both Covid-19 and Brexit have challenged the industry and continues to do so. These unpredictable times have allowed businesses to demonstrate outstanding resourcefulness and flexibility whilst adapting and altering the way they work; in order to come through the other side. The challenges have highlighted and promoted the importance of the Supply Chain Industry.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
The opportunities have arisen from the necessity for businesses to adapt and we have found the Food Industry, as a whole, has been extremely busy. This has resulted in the increase demand for Short Term Hire solutions and projects that provide increased storage on existing building footprints.
What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2020?
For UniCarriers, it is to support our new and existing customer’s supply process, whilst ensuring product arrives on shelves in a timely and efficient manner; endeavouring to limit the effects of Brexit and the Pandemic on consumers.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?
2020 provided a record year for industrial and logistics real estates and the trends suggest that it will continue into 2021. Traders are wanting to hold more stock to mitigate the risks of both Covid and Brexit, as warehouses are close to being full, more sites will need to be built.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
With the increase of Ecommerce and small part picking operations, Automated operations will be on the increase in 2021. End users will be focusing more on energy usage and cost – therefore, Lithium Ion solutions could also be on the increase.
In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?
Much more Automation to suit the part picking nature of the industry in the future.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?
The ability to adapt and change. During this unusual time, many companies have had to diversify and react to the new markets. It has been really encouraging to see how businesses are targeting a positive result from what has been a difficult year.
You go to the bar at the Total Supply Chain Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
Gin and Tonic.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Being involved in materials handling projects from an embryonic stage and seeing it through right until the end. The investment in time and working close with the customer, makes you feel part of their company and operation; when a project comes to fruition, it’s very rewarding.
And what’s the most challenging?
The vast majority of our time is spent in face-to-face meetings with our customers. However, due to the current challenges, the transition to having meetings over Microsoft Teams and Zoom has been a difficult one.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Stick to the Process’ – our process is designed to create a robust solution for the customer. Short cutting this may result in the customer not maximising opportunities from a new operation or a fleet replacement scenario.
Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?
For more information about Unicarriers UK, click here.