Stuart O'Brien, Author at Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd
  • Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd

Posts By :

Stuart O'Brien

ABP invests in Port of Lowestoft to support UK Southern North Sea energy sector

Associated British Ports (ABP), the owner and operator of the Port of Lowestoft has invested more than £250,000 in the construction of a new fuel bunkering facility to support the UK Southern North Sea (SNS) energy sector.

Yesterday, the bunkering facility received its first fuel from the vessel, Thun Grace, which called at the Port of Lowestoft on behalf of Peterson UK and GEOS Group as part of a strategic partnership to carry out fuel services. GEOS Group provides fuel directly from a UK refinery to various ports around the UK.

John Shade, UK Fuel Manager, said: “This new fuel bunkering facility provides operators from the oil and gas and offshore wind sectors with another reason to use Lowestoft as their port of choice, with capability and capacity now in place to service any vessel that comes into the port. We are pleased to have worked in partnership with ABP and GEOS Group to create a competitively priced solution in a very convenient location.”

Barry Newton, Director, GEOS Group, added: “We are delighted to be able to provide a fuelling facility in Lowestoft, both supporting and adding to port services, and are excited to work with ABP in the development of the port going forward.”

Construction of the new facility, which included the raising of bund walls, began in November 2019 and was completed on schedule by the local contractor Brooks and Wood.

Paul Ager, ABP Divisional Port Manager – East Coast, said: “Today marks another important milestone in our partnership with Peterson UK and GEOS Group, which will help support jobs and the regional economy at this vital time.

“With this new bunkering facility our marine teams are able to support the UK SNS energy sector 365 days a year, making sure that our customers get a consistent, cost-effective and efficient service.”

Since the start of ABP and Peterson UK’s long-term business partnership in January 2019, the two companies have celebrated a number of successes, including reaching the milestone of handling 100 vessels in October 2019. Since then, this figure has grown to more than 350 vessels, which have called at the port.

Peterson UK operates a wide range of warehouses and other cargo and logistic services from the Port of Lowestoft, including fuel bunkering to support the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors being supplied from its Lowestoft Supply Base.

Total Supply Chain Summit: Limited places – Secure yours today!

Delegate places are now extremely limited at this October’s Total Supply Chain Summit – Have you registered yet?

Click here to confirm your place on the 1st & 2nd October event at Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire.

We are also running 2nd annual hybrid summit on the 2nd & 3rd November at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester.

Offering all the same benefits as next month’s event, you can gain access to insightful seminars that focus on the industry and its challenges. PLUS, your attendance is entirely FREE, wether that be in person at the LIVE event or virtually from the comfort of your own surroundings – whatever works best for you!

Your pre-arranged bespoke itinerary, means that all you need to do is arrive or sign in on the day and enjoy complimentary overnight accommodation, including all meals and refreshments throughout!

Click here to register for your place.

Or if you have any questions about the event or your guest pass, then contact us today.

5 Minutes With… Matthew Hopkins, BoxLogic

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Matthew Hopkins, Director at BoxLogic, about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges posed by COVID-19 and Brexit, plus some Netflix favourites…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

BoxLogic is a consultancy that supports our clients transform their supply chain operations, usually when there is a change in volumes, sales mix or cost base; or if additional capacity is required in the network. The key areas that we add value to our clients are by designing efficient distribution networks, designing or redesigning new warehouse facilities, evaluating the feasibility of warehouse automation and WMS selection.

We are a team of four and setup our own business in late 2018 after working together for several years at a previous specialist logistics consultancy. Now we set our own direction for working with clients. It has been very exciting so far and I’m looking forward to it continuing.

What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?

It has been fascinating time for supply chain with some very important issues in the news agenda. It shows how important the function is and it’s hopefully going to attract many young people to the industry who are excited about answering these questions.

You cannot look past Covid-19 as the biggest challenge, managing the supply issues, starting and stopping the supply chain has shown incredible adaptability. There has been plenty of other challenges though including the need for better visibility of how goods are sourced and the ethical integrity of those products. That applies as much for paying workers in garment factories fairly, as it does for the sustainability of soy production on deforested land.

The small matters of Brexit, the demise of the high-street and the increasing adoption of automation on top of that!

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Ecommerce. To have an effective, efficient online fulfilment platform has been integral over the last six months for many businesses to keep trading. Town centres are quieter than ever and the ONS data shows that the lockdown and social distancing is encouraging an even greater proportion of spend to shift online. Operations that have invested in warehouse technology to reduce the reliance on labour have been well placed to benefit from the pandemic and I think a lot of companies are playing catch up.

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry over the next twelve months?

I think there are going to be two priorities. Firstly, keeping the operation going through the pandemic and maintaining social distancing in the workplace to prevent outbreaks in the operation. The financial and even reputational impacts of an operation going down because of an outbreak could be significant.

Secondly, the supply chain industry still doesn’t know what terms the UK will be trading on after we exit the Brexit transition period and there isn’t a lot of time for the industry to prepare for whatever the future looks like. 

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

It seems that the UK is facing into a few different economic headwinds at the moment, so I think any technology that takes cost out of an operation quickly is going to do well. That could be good for anyone offering Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS), which will probably suit Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs).

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

How good or bad drone deliveries work, I imagine. It’s one of those supply chain developments that will really make an impression on the general consumer and probably create a bit of a buzz. It will be interesting to see who is driving the technology; the traditional parcel carriers, who have been growing rapidly over the last decade and developing their infrastructure or the tech companies. Will it be a VHS vs Betamax moment or not?

Which person in, or associated with, the Supply Chain industry would you most like to meet?

I’m always interested in meeting anyone with an interesting perspective or challenge that needs to be solved. As I’ll be attending the Total Supply Chain Summit in October, I’m hoping to achieve just that.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?

Last year I attended a conference and the audience were asked to raise their hand if they deliberately set out on a career in supply chain. Only 10% of the room had!! It’s such a fast-paced and exciting area to work, I am always surprised by the lack of pathways from education into our industry, when compared with finance or marketing.

You go to the bar at the Total Supply Chain Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

I’m a tee-total so it’s usually a Coke!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Working in projects always brings great variety but as a consultant, you tend to see even more as you get to work across different businesses and sectors.

And what’s the most challenging?

Starting new projects are always exciting but it’s also very hard to absorb so much information so quickly. It’s like continually starting a new job! But I wouldn’t swap it for anything else.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Neither, my favourite Netflix show is Bojack Horseman or Better Call Saul.

Do you specialise in Labelling & Packaging? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Supply Chain Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the logistics market – and in September we’ll be focussing on Labelling & Packaging.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help supply chain industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Labelling & Packaging specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Nick Stannard on

Here’s our features list in full:

Sep – Labelling & Packaging
Oct – 3PL & 4PL
Nov – Order Fulfilment
Dec – Transport Planning & Load Optimisation

How COVID-19 has impacted global supply chains

By Nick Pike, Chief Revenue Officer, Vizibl

The impact of COVID-19 has been swift and devastating to those directly affected. Not just from a health perspective, but also for businesses who had to promptly close their doors as the country went into lockdown, particularly those in hospitality and retail. And as we now slowly emerge from these more stringent controls, the indirect consequences of the pandemic on global systems and networks, specifically global supply chains are also being felt.  

The spread of COVID-19 has affected operations globally in ways that are difficult to model and assess. Many of the affected countries are at the heart of global supply chains and as a result have witnessed depleting (or idling) stock; the net result is that many organisations have simply not been able to meet their contractual obligations on time. 

This is because multiple areas have been disrupted.  For example, suppliers have been unable to fulfil orders due to labour shortages, including shortages of drivers.  There have been transportation restrictions, and restrictions moving from one country to another.  This has resulted in stalled production, unfulfilled orders, slower shipments, stock shortages, incomplete deliveries, inflated costs, and less products on the shelf at the retailer. 

Manufacturing issues in China 

Additionally, it would be remiss to talk about issues affecting global supply chains, without talking about China. Earlier in the year, analysts warned that manufacturing activity in China would face significant disruption due to COVID-19.   For example, Apple has 10,000 direct employees in China with almost all the company’s flagship iPhone products being made in the country. Likewise, US car manufacturer, Ford relies on nine auto manufacturer facilities in China. Indeed, auto manufacturers are one of the industries that have been hard hit, due to parts shortages. 

Over the years, China’s share of global exports has more than doubled from just under 6% in 2003 to nearly 13% in 2018 according to OECD and World Bank data.  However, in the past where China has been viewed as only producing low-end, low-value products, but today China is in the supply chains of many of the high-end products  meaning the impact on the supply chains has been and will continue to be significant. 

Similarly, a slowdown in China affects the global economy. The country accounted for just over 4% of global GDP in 2003. By 2018, it accounted for nearly 16%. The global supply chain is not just vulnerable to China’s position as the world’s largest producer of goods and parts, but also as the world’s second largest consumer. Weaker demand from China further complicates the impact on global supply chains. 

Diversification and resilience will be the watchword going forward 

Containment of the virus is important for disrupted supply chains as they can only return to normal once it stops spreading. This will only really happen once a vaccine has been developed.  While COVID-19 is not the first public health emergency to impact global networks, its severity highlights a need for greater supply chain diversification and resilience. Natural disasters similarly prove this point: the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan exposed the dependence of global motor vehicle companies on auto parts manufacturing in the country.  

The need to diversify supply chains and build in greater resilience will be critical for long-term survival. Greater visibility into complex supply chain activity will equip organisations with the knowledge to reduce supplier exposure and risk, which will help them vary their supply chains.  New technologies are emerging that allow conglomerates to manage partnerships with a wider range of suppliers, from global corporations to smaller start-ups. Data shows that supplier diversity not only helps to reduce costs but also enables organisations to innovate and deliver more value to end users. 

A growing number of organisations are now incorporating diversity and visibility into their wider supplier collaboration and innovation programmes.  There is a greater focus on regional suppliers to mitigate risk. COVID has exposed the fragility of long distance, international supply chains. In addition, governments are starting to demand local sourcing, for example drugs and PPE. 

So, what tips would we give to organisations both now and in the future. In the short-term as we start to emerge from COVID-19 organisations should look to: 

1.     Create cross-functional and/or cross border SWAT teams to deal with supply chain shortages 

2.     Build additional buffers of inventory and raw materials 

3.     Develop expected-case and worst-case scenarios 

4.     Explore additional delivery routes and how they can source locally 

5.   Explore technologies and partners who can help them to diversify and innovate throughout their supply chain.  

Digitally transforming your supply chain 

Understandably, most companies are currently focused on the near-term, with their strategies addressing the COVID-19 situation as a temporary problem. But, if businesses look at the current situation strategically and align smartly, it will certainly help to propel future growth and competitive advantage for many years to come. For example, this could help organisations to digitise and enhance faster decision making and execution.  

As a result, organisations will gain better end-to-end supply chain visibility.  By collaborating more with their suppliers, they could build new products, services and innovations to deliver more value to their customers. Companies can develop better digital capabilities that enable better sourcing, collaboration, and supplier management.  Finally, this could enable more eCommerce and a better balance with more traditional operations combined with online channels to deliver an omni-channel approach. 

Total Supply Chain Summit – Secure your place at October’s event

Make sure you register for October’s Total Supply Chain Summit – you can attend either in person or virtually and there are only a handful of places left.

Your guest pass is entirely free and includes access to live seminar sessions, networking with fellow industry professionals, overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments throughout.

Plus, you will receive a personalised itinerary of relaxed 1-2-1 meetings with budget-saving suppliers who match your needs for upcoming projects. There is no hard sell at the event, just a great opportunity to build business relationships.

1st & 2nd October – Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire – Virtual attendance options are available.

Confirm your free pass here, or contact us today, if you would like any more information about this event or our other November Summit.

Freight association calls for greater clarity and detail on new cross border trade systems

BIFA, the trade association for UK freight forwarders, says the devil will be in the detail when it comes to the raft of recent announcements by the government in regards to various aspects of future cross border international trade.

Robert Keen, the trade association’s Director General said: “The sooner the government puts some meat on the bones of the various announcements, the better it will be for members of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), which manage a significant proportion of that visible trade.

“With less than 100 days to go before the end of the transition period, we share the concerns of our members whether there will be sufficient time to make the necessary preparations to facilitate and implement the revised arrangements.”

When the Border Operating Model was revealed, BIFA welcomed the fact that the information contained in the documentation suggests a more cohesive approach to managing the UK’s trade flows and regulatory procedures with the EU.

The announcement gave some clarity on the timing of increased controls; the overall processes that need to be followed; investment in infrastructure; as well as grants for training and new IT infrastructure.

Keen added: “Set within the overall Border Operating Model, a pattern is emerging of announcements with attention-grabbing headlines, but minimal detail that doesn’t appear to have been thought through.”

BIFA says it has significant concerns about the recent announcements concerning the Smart Freight System; Goods Vehicle Movement System, as well as the Trader Support Service for Northern Ireland, in particular, which was announced last week.

Whilst the new systems have been announced, it says consultation with the trade has been minimal and some of the practicalities of implementing the new systems in regards to freight forwarding, and other supply chain responsibilities, as well as document flows, do not appear to have been taken into account.

Keen says: “Clearly, in regards to the Trader Support Service, if businesses wish to remain compliant they will have to implement new processes and train staff, which will mean investment at a time of huge uncertainty.

“We appreciate that Northern Ireland is a special case, but BIFA members are disappointed with certain elements of the announcement, including the fact that the Trader Support Service will include Rest of the World customs entries, which will actually lead to them losing business and revenue.

“The decision to include Rest of the World trade with Northern Ireland in the range of the Trader Support Service activities has come as a complete surprise and we have already had members advising that their customers will  be cancelling the customs clearance services performed on their behalf. 

“There are also significant gaps in detail regarding key customs responsibilities, such as direct and indirect trader status, which can carry significant liabilities.

“BIFA members on both sides of the Irish Sea that have been encouraged to invest in employees, new IT systems; sign contracts and make other financial investments could find themselves out of pocket with the introduction of the Trader Support Service.

“BIFA remains concerned that many of the details concerning the new systems  still appear to be at the conceptual stage. We urge the government to provide urgent clarification as many questions remain unanswered for businesses in the UK, and in particular in Northern Ireland, where both the EU and UK customs rules will be applied, depending on the final destination of the goods.”

“Even with the further financial commitment that was announced alongside the news of the Trader Support Service last Friday, the time frames for consultation; procurement, and then devising the appropriate IT and other operating systems seems extremely challenging.”

Total Supply Chain Summit – Claim your place!

There’s a guest pass on hold for you at our October Total Supply Chain Summitare you able to join us either in person or virtually?

Your guest pass is entirely free and includes access to live seminar sessions, networking with fellow industry professionals, overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments throughout.

Plus, you will receive a personalised itinerary of relaxed 1-2-1 meetings with budget-saving suppliers who match your needs for upcoming projects. There is no hard sell at the event, just a great opportunity to build business relationships.

1st & 2nd October – Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire – Virtual attendance options are available.

Confirm your free pass here, or contact us today, if you would like any more information about this event or our other November Summit.

We’ve got your needs covered at the Total Supply Chain Summit this year

You have a choice of two Total Supply Chain Summits to attend this year – plus you can take part in person or remotely via our new video meetings platform.

September 21st & 22nd, Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire

November 2nd & 3rd, Hilton Deansgate Manchester

Both events represent a unique opportunity to help you plan for the ‘new normal’ – the events have been adapted to ensure we are abiding by the social distancing rules, and therefore ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our event attendees and staff.

The events will have controlled numbers, prescheduled meetings and be hosted within a safe environment. 

We have increased the size of our meeting booths to allow for a 2-meter gap, and added a clear partition screen between all meeting participants. Plus, there will be clear floor markings throughout.

These Summits will go ahead either as a live or virtual event. Alongside meetings and networking, you can also enjoy a series of seminar sessions, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest tips and challenges from leading industry experts.

You can also enjoy complimentary overnight accommodation, including all meals and refreshments throughout.

To secure your place and enjoy all the benefits of the Summits, click here to book your complimentary place.

Logistics Management tops 2020 supply chain buying trends

Logistics Management, Distribution & End-to-End solutions top the list of services the UK’s leading supply chain management professionals are sourcing in 2020.

The findings have been revealed by the Total Supply Chain Summit and are based on delegate requirements ahead of this year’s events.

Delegates registering to attend the event were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2020 and beyond.

A significant 81.5% are looking to invest in Logistics Management, 70.4% each for Distribution and End-to-End Solutions.

Just behind were Optmisation Software (63%) and Management Software (61%).

% of delegates at the Total Supply Chain Summit sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10):

Logistics Management 81.5%
Distribution 70.4%
Total End-to-End Supply Chain Solutions 70.4%
3PL (3rd party logistics – single source) 70.4%
Supply Chain Planning & Optimisation Software 63.0%
Supply Chain Management Software 61.1%
Distribution Centre’s / Warehousing 61.1%
Cost Reductions 59.3%
Forecasting 57.4%
Inventory Optimisation 57.4%

To find out more about the Total Supply Chain Summit, visit