In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Mark Gleed, National Accounts Manager at UniCarriers UK, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic & Brexit, industry opportunities and supply chain diversification…
Tell us about your company, products, and services.
UniCarriers are a global supplier of forklift trucks and have over 50 years’ experience of supplying trucks and storage solutions to the UK market. Totally committed to developing the most efficient and cost-efficient materials handling and storage solutions, by providing a complete solution for all types of business, covering service, fleet information, health & safety, training, tools, equipment, and financing.
What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Of course, Brexit and COVID-19 have posed significant challenges to the entire industry and continue to do so. On this basis, the Supply Chain Industry has had to become extremely agile in order to adapt quickly to the ever-changing landscape. Supply chains have become much leaner and prescriptive – based on the consumer led demands changing and a greater shift towards E-commerce.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
For the Supply Chain Industry, opportunities have been vast due to the turbo-charged demand for online shopping and the move away from more traditional shopping methods such as the high street and in-store. For the Food Production and Supply Chain sectors, there has been an unprecedented increase in volume – sometimes consistent with Xmas periods at otherwise low tides in the year! The consequence of this has been a significant increase in the demand for Short Term Hire solutions, and the re-gearing of fleets.
UniCarriers have been extremely well placed to support our customers with the right equipment, in the right place and at the right time to allow them to meet the volatile new demands placed upon them.
What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?
To remain agile, and resilient, and be quick to react to an ever-changing world. With a vaccine-led recovery underway (both domestically and globally) societal changes and behavioural patterns which have emerged from the pandemic are unlikely to shift back to how things were pre-COVID, however, some old habits may begin to creep back in.
Those businesses which are unable to move at pace and adapt to change will be in danger of extinction in the face of the “dominant survivors”.
UniCarriers’ endeavour will be to support our customer base supply process, ensuring product arrives to consumers when required – with the aim of mitigating the effects of Brexit and the Pandemic.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?
2020 witnessed an acceleration towards digitalisation in supply chains. CEOs were putting off investment in new technologies but have since begun to embrace them. Supply chain diversification will also emerge as companies seek to become more resilient and not rely on one, or only a few suppliers.
UniCarriers’ 360 – the ability to provide customers with all-encompassing support through: service, fleet information, health & safety, equipment, training and finance will be paramount to cope with ever-changing demands.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
There will be a sharper focus on E-commerce and Cloud-based Technology – which will be on the heels of greater levels of automation and digitalisation.
Cloud-based technology will allow companies to scale their systems as their business grows, and of course have the added benefit of accessibility from almost anywhere, as work patterns have shifted people increasingly to remote working.
In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?
Hopefully, how we emerged from a global pandemic and the “new normal” that has become the adopted standard. It is fair to say that things may never return to pre-pandemic conditions.
Which person in, or associated with, the Supply Chain industry would you most like to meet?
It would have to be a government minister with overall responsibility for the sector, to ask them direct questions about their vision.
Whether I would get a straight and honest answer though is debateable…….
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?
Companies’ ability to cope with disruption and quickly re-strategize whilst immersed in deep uncertainty.
You go to the bar at the Total Supply Chain Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
A single malt whiskey.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Meeting a multitude of people across a very dynamic sector. At UniCarriers, the focus is on saving our customers money through helping them with improvements in their operation. This consultative approach is the differentiator which I enjoy the most – especially when I see recommended strategies put in place and delivering the desired results.
And what’s the most challenging?
From time to time the traffic congestion, as my job involves a lot of travel (though this has ebbed and flowed during the pandemic).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To take “ownership” of a given situation. This is the only way to ensure that you can be confident of a task being completed, and to own preferences/standards.
Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?