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5 Minutes With… Simon Wood, LPR

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Simon Wood, Operations Director at LPR UK & Ireland, about the company, the ongoing impacts of Brexit and COVID-19, market opportunities and new technology…

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?

The two biggest are obviously the pandemic and Brexit. The pandemic saw heightened consumer led demand. Supporting our customers in their response to the panic buying led to some very long days! It also highlighted how little the public understands about the way the supply chain works, and why the panic buying was unnecessary.

With Brexit the impact came in the form of ISPM15. It became clear quite early on that there was a lack of understanding in the FMCG sector about what it was, and how to achieve compliance. Fortunately, being pan-European, ISPM15 wasn’t new to us so we were able to help our customers ensure that their deliveries didn’t fall foul of the regulations.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

It was great to see the industry being given a higher profile and a more positive image. Perceptions have changed and more is known about the importance of the supply chain. 

I’m hoping that this will lead to increased interest in people joining the sector.

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?

Creating stability in the supply of raw materials (particularly timber) and tackling shortages in the labour market. 

The labour market has always been a challenge and I’m hopeful that people will now see the value in becoming part of the supply chain industry.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

Retail and consumer growth. eCommerce particularly. Businesses will be looking for partners with a consistent approach and able to offer cost reductions (particularly important given some of the overspending seen and whilst businesses look to stabilise).

Sustainable growth in eCommerce. Non-essential retail has a huge challenge ahead of it due to the changes in consumer consumption, they need to offer something more meaningful.

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

Greater digitalisation in businesses, particularly in stock control and automation.  eCommerce will feed this trend. 

In 2024 we’ll all be talking about…?

Probably the pandemic of 2020. How 2020 / 21 was a stepping stone to changes in how we use technology, in consumer consumption habits and working policies – of course by then most of this will be ancient history. 

The automotive industry’s evolution into a cleaner haulage system and I hope that we’ll see a move to more intelligent driving systems – making smart motorways safer and smarter.

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

Anyone leading the move to clean transport systems – probably the lead at Rivian – who are working with Amazon on the launch of new commercial delivery vehicles.

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

How diverse and critical it is to everyday life and how the humble pallet is absolutely fundamental to it – strange considering it was created after WW11 and is largely unchanged.

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

A cold beer.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Continuous challenges and looking to the future – trying to anticipate what’s coming next!

And what’s the most challenging?

The lack of predictability – makes forward planning interesting.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t be afraid to sleep on a decision.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Neither. I’ve been watching This Is Us!

5 Minutes With… Bob Tarrant, UniCarriers UK

We recently spoke to Bob Tarrant, UK Products Manager at Unicarriers UK, about the company’s forklift solutions, an increase in storage systems reviews, the importance of data and operational efficiencies…

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. Advice from our highly skilled team of materials handling consultants is backed up by our PC based warehouse simulation program, Logistics Analyser.

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

After a tough year of living with the global pandemic and Brexit uncertainty, we’ve seen a marked increase in customers reviewing their storage systems in readiness for an upturn in a post-Covid climate. We’ve been busy producing warehouse simulations to help customers analyse their activities and MHE utilisation in greater detail.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

For us, the opportunity to step up and provide the comprehensive data driven reports that our customers need. UniCarriers are producing an increasing amount of digital activity scenarios to assist op’s managers to rationalise their available resources. 

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2022?

To increase operational efficiency through analytics; To measure and appraise warehouse processes and activities.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

We expect to see a continuation of the upward trend in storage system reviews. Businesses looking to re-purpose non-profitable warehouse space to accommodate the increase in on-line sales, SKUs and throughput volumes.

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

Digital twins and Application modelling are on the increase; ‘simulation before implementation’. Fortunately, UniCarriers had this vision way back in year 2000 and began the development of the Logistics Analyser program; A transparent way to measure and analyse, not just storage systems and MHE, but other associated areas of the warehouse that combine to produce goods flow.

An introduction to the Logistics Analyser program can be found here.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about?

Adapting to the ‘new normal’, more focus on B2C and e-commerce warehouse strategies.  

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

I sometimes find it surprising how much MHE dormancy or over-utilisation is accepted, the costs of which have to be allocated to other goods flow processes. Using the UniCarriers Logistics analyser program, we can help to identify levels of MHE required to cover shift patterns, peak periods with opportunities to adjust fleet sizes.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Demonstrating by simulation, that very subtle changes to storage system layouts and MHE activities can have a dramatic effect on goods flow cycle times, and ultimately profitability.

And what’s the most challenging?

Site surveys in cold and damp applications can sometimes be quite challenging but are none the less, always a pleasure and never a chore! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Assume nothing!

www.unicarrierseurope.com/uk/Logistics-Analyser

5 Minutes WIth… Logistics Reply’s Patrick Barlow

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Patrick Barlow, Senior Manager at Logistics Reply, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, market opportunities, new technology and real-time visibility…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Logistics Reply has been creating Warehouse Management Systems for over 20 years in the Food / Retail / 3PL / Manufacturing / Automotive sectors, and as a result we now also offer our own agile microserviced Supply Chain Fulfilment software that looks upstream/downstream from the warehouse – with ‘off the shelf’ products such as Yard Management; Dock Appointment Scheduling; Proof Of Delivery; Real-time Stock Visibility; Ship From Store, Dark-Store Fulfilment and Dropship.

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

  • The ever-changing “Will They / Won’t They” game of Lockdown release/contraction (and how it’s affected people’s buying patterns and the resulting ever-changing Fulfilment challenges).
  • Close-proximity working / On-site outbreaks and Isolation / Working from home.
  • All with a delicate sprinkling of Brexit’s delightful cocktail of Border Compliance Requirements (outbound and inbound).

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

  • The ‘opportunity’ for most Store-only Retailers to have to adapt and go Multi-channel (if they succeeded!);
  • One horticultural supplier (Double H) who used to supply only direct to Retailers and were on the brink of collapse, but successfully turned it around by founding their own e-Commerce website and are now doing better than ever.
  • And anybody offering agile Warehouse Space has definitely had it all snapped up!!!

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?

  • Single View Of Stock (across all players in the chain); and Cost-effective Agile Fulfilment – the one feeds the other.
  • To answer the question “Which stock is closest to which Customer, and therefore where should it be picked / fulfilled from – National DC, Local DC, Retail Store, Dark Store, or Dropship/Supplier Direct Fulfilment?”

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

  • Manufacturers/Suppliers, 3PLs and Retailers all working collaboratively to achieve Real-Time Visibility.

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

  • For More Mature/Established players – End-To-End Real-Time Inbound Visibility; AI for Demand Planning; and possibly Blockchain for Sustainability.
  • For Medium-Sized players – it could be agile/cloud-based Warehouse Management Systems;
  • For Smaller Supplier/Manufacturers – it’s likely to be Despatch-only software (to provide their larger Customers with the Inbound Tracking/Visibility they need, without actual Stock Management).

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

  • How to over-correct/re-balance some of the understandably swift decisions taken in relation to Lockdown in 2020-1. (“We need to re-open in some of the store locations we walked away from… How much will it cost us?)

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

  • We’ve been lucky enough to meet the Ocado team and work with them, which is cutting-edge…

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

  • The myriad ways in which people supply different products – differing speeds of movement / supply chain models (Efficient; Fast; Continuous Flow etc.)
  • The difference in priorities by different Countries / Cultures (what works in one, won’t work in another).

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

  • I’m a big fan of red wine (Pinot Noir, Malbec, Montepulciano)

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

  • New requests / new requirements that we haven’t thought of: “Can you do this…?”
  • Site Visits – seeing how different people and organisations achieve things, and meeting new people.
  • I’m personally also always delighted when a Brand-new Customer contacts us and says we were recommended by an Existing Customer… no better feeling!!!

And what’s the most challenging?

  • Prioritisation – with 10 products, 4 sectors and perennially vocal clients (whom we love!) there’s never a dull moment!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

  1. “Don’t listen to the Words People Say, pay attention to The Overall Nature Of Their Behaviour.”
  2. And easily the best definition of Sales I ever heard: “Sales = Friendship + Expertise.”
    (ie. if one of them isn’t there, it will never, ever happen)

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

  • Whilst the title of Stranger Things might reflect the past 1-2 years for all of us… it’s got to be Peaky Blinders!

5 Minutes With… LPR UK & IRELAND’s Diane Carroll

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Diane Carroll, Commercial Director at LPR UK & Ireland, about the company, the ongoing issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, market opportunities and the impact of new technology…

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?

Everybody has experienced the challenges of working from home during the pandemic, but those involved in hands on industries such as supply chain and logistics have probably felt the most pain. Demand did not ease during this time – in fact demand almost doubled in some sectors.

Moving to working from home whilst ensuring that our customers were able to keep delivering is something that I think was handled exceptionally well at LPR!

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The change in consumer behaviour has forced us to consider logistical challenges around growth sectors such as eCommerce and addressing this now puts us in a good position as we move forwards.

There have been some great opportunities to learn how to build relationships in a virtual world – tricky for a business where we are used to looking people in the eye.

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?

Maintaining the same level of responsiveness displayed in 2020 -it would be a shame if those skills were lost. There was some tremendous agility seen in acting on the changes in the market to meet consumer demand on the supply chain.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

An even greater focus on instant gratification – same day delivery. We were already heading down this road, but the expansion of home delivery into other areas like the convenience store, through apps such as the new Snappy Shopper means that supply chain agility will be even more critical. 

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

Big data, and the use in FMCG of shopper behavioural data to drive logistics activity around final mile solutions and AI driven replenishment. We’ve been talking about this for years, but I’d expect its development to accelerate as a result of learnings from 2020. 

In 2024 we’ll all be talking about…?

I think we’ll be talking about the stand out companies that made the decision to keep the personal touch. I think when Big Data is the norm, the differentiator will be companies who also keep the focus on the customer. We’ll all be talking about the handful of companies who have made this their USP – despite the ever increasing reliance on automation.

Customer service will become the prevailing differentiator.

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

I was fascinated recently to read about Adrian Flanagan and Dominick Scott-Flanagan. They founded a company called Supermarket Direct in the 90s and actually launched the UK’s first online grocery shopping & home delivery service. I’d love to hear their experiences of pioneering such an alien concept! 

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

How completely and utterly resilient it is. How an industry that isn’t regarded as particularly cutting edge, when compared to say SaaS, has proven its cruciality in the last 12 months – more than almost any other sector. 

For me, seeing so many large pan-European businesses continue with their pallet pooling projects despite outside influences, makes me think that it is higher up on people’s agenda than perhaps I thought it was.

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

A cranberry juice with a twist of lime.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Getting to work with so many different businesses and seeing that every supply chain is unique. And of course having the opportunity to be part of a team driving such a vibrant and fast growing business which is full of people who are passionate about what they do!

And what’s the most challenging?

Juggling my many priorities and keeping abreast of market developments  – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It means I get to work in a fast paced and changing environment where no two days are the same.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always be true to yourself. I like to be a human being both inside the workplace and out of it, and I hope that makes me a better leader to my team. It is really important to me that I act with integrity.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders – but I wouldn’t take Tommy Shelby’s advice on running a business!

5 Minutes With… Mark Gleed, UniCarriers UK

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?

Peaky Blinders 

5 Minutes With… LPR’s Adrian Fleming

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!

5 Minutes With… Richard Aldridge, National Accounts Manager, UniCarriers UK

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?

Peaky Blinders 

For more information about Unicarriers UK, click here.

5 Minutes With… Hazel 4D’s LEE ARMSTRONG

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Hazel 4D Marketing Director Lee Armstrong about the company, it’s products & services, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit, and upcoming opportunities…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

At Hazel 4D, we provide a wide range of innovative products that help you save time, money and the planet, but know from experience that the packaging process isn’t simply about the supply of materials. It also relies on having the right equipment, and on carefully training staff and monitoring performance, to ensure that packaging is always applied as efficiently as possible.

That’s why we offer our unique service, where we partner with you to improve your business performance and profitability – typically you will end up spending significantly less on packaging. 

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

Partly due to the time of the year, and partly due to the situation that Covid and Brexit have brought upon us, lead times of packaging products are extending every day at the moment. Here at Hazel 4D we are working hard to ensure that we continue to meet your needs. We have increased stocks substantially to ensure that we can support you with covering your Christmas/seasonal trade, as well as the additional pressures of panic buying and the huge increase in E-commerce.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

There’s been exponential increase of end users buying online has created huge demand for effective packaging.

Investing in PPE products at the request of customers. The company has helped multiple businesses by supplying these products and has even taken on new customers as a result of this. Successfully pulling through a difficult time.

We took the opportunity to help out the community as much as possible. We donated cardboard boxes and E-tape free of charge to our local Burberry site that was producing PPE for the NHS – Read article here: https://www.hazel4d.com/en/page/550/hazel-4d-news-ppe-for-the-nhs

Hazel 4D donated a number of poly bags to a local seamstress hoping to put a smile on the faces of frontline workers. Read article here: https://www.hazel4d.com/en/page/551/hazel-4d-news-polythene-bag-donation

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?

Ensuring that business can continue without interruption whatever the outcome of Brexit.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

An increase in online shopping and e-commerce – We’re expecting the economy will improve and consumer confidence will rise making B2C suppliers even busier.

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

We expect to see a huge focus around recycled products into plastic products such as stretch film, driven by the Plastic Packaging tax coming in 2022.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Looking back on 2020 and how the pandemic has changed the world for forever, with more of a focus on e-commerce and sustainable packaging alternatives.

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

Just how resilient, adaptable and flexible it’s proved itself to be during the turmoil of 2020.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

The people that I interact with on a daily basis and the work that we do together to solve challenging packaging requirements. We’ve worked with a multisite printing company this year to significantly improve their pallet wrapping process whilst saving them around 70% on the cost of every pallet they wrap. One happy customer!

And what’s the most challenging?

Taking on a new role of Marketing Director for the company and writing a marketing plan for 2021.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You progress faster when you’re working outside your comfort zone.

5 Minutes With… Paul Clifford, Sage UKI X3

In the latest instalment of our supply chain executive interview series, we spoke to Paul Clifford, Head of Professional Services at Sage UKI X3, about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges of COVID-19 and the impact of news technology…

 Questions

Tell us about your company, products and services.

I manage the Medium Segment X3 Professional Services team at Sage. We specialise in implementation projects of X3 ERP for customers and providing Centre of Excellence Services to our business partners.

What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic?

The industry has faced challenges that could never have planned for, some stockrooms and distribution centres have been closed so alternative shipping arrangements had to be put in place at short notice with restricted transport options.  Other businesses have had contingency plans for problems in a hub or a region but no one anticipated a full global impact including transport.  Finally factor in the surge in consumer demand and reduced manpower and the industry have had some unprecedented challenges to solve with no rehearsals.  At Sage we have provided support to our customers to amend configurations to help them over come some of their challenges.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Optimised stock holdings and optimising replenishment with just in time purchasing of raw materials and manufacturing.

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2020?

Resilience, efficiency and flexibility!

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

There will be a bigger focus on authenticity of product, traceability and systems driving temporary legislation such as social distancing regulations enforced.

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

Collaborative technologies that help authenticate traceability and authenticity of products such as blockchain.

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

How we have prevented the supply chain challenges we hand in 2020!

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

Eddie Stobart – the founder, they turned a distribution brand into a household name.

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

The complexity of getting food from source to consumers dinner tables.

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

A local real ale.  There are so many to choose from and they are all different.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Meeting people from different businesses and helping them solve their problems.

And what’s the most challenging?

Switching off when on holiday.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders if I am forced to choose! 

5 Minutes With… Les Brookes, Oliver Wight

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Oliver Wight EAME CEO Les Brookes about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the importance of data for running business scenarios…

Tell us about your company, products, and services.

Oliver Wight are a global organisation that works with businesses to improve their planning capabilities, enable end to end supply chain integration, shape demand, and alter the mindset of business leaders to unlock a whole new, improved way of working. And what follows is outstanding results. We are the originators of Sales & Operations Planning and industry thought leaders for Integrated Business Planning. Our philosophy is based on finding the sweet spot between process, people, and tools to enable business sustainability and success.

What really sets us apart as a business is that each of the Oliver Wight Partners who deliver education to clients, understand that client’s ambitions, challenges, and concerns because they were, themselves, once a client of Oliver Wight. They have all held senior positions in a variety of industries so understand the necessary steps businesses need to take in order to succeed. 

What have been the biggest challenges the supply chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Of course it’s easy to talk about the current COVID-19 related challenges and the need to re-evaluate the source of supply etc, but I would say the biggest challenge (and where the biggest opportunity lies) is gaining true end to end visibility and management of the supply chain. 

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The opportunity could also be seen as a company threat, for example if we don’t take the opportunity to plan and manage the end to end supply chain it is likely that our costs will be higher than those of our competitors. The opportunity is in delivering the lowest cost throughout the entire supply chain – not just for what we own.

What is the biggest priority for the supply chain industry in 2020?

The integration with demand, based on the levels of volatility that we are going to continue to see and being able to run and execute multiple scenarios. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

I would expect organisations to re-evaluate how they are able to be flexible and agile whilst also understanding how they can adapt their process to fit the current levels of volatility. For example, how to use DDMRP – that was designed for use in a steadier state – to manage increased levels of fluctuating demand.

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

I think that organisations will want to extract data to run business scenarios, plan the end to end supply chain for all partners, and extract data for Integrated Business Planning. So it’s likely that new technology such as 09 or SAP IBP with its other modules will roll to the top.

In 2022 we will all be talking about…?

We will all be discussing the ongoing impact of COVID-19 re. the global recession, and hence we will be talking more about Integrated Business Planning’s capability to effectively plan and manage the integration of strategy and the latest bottom up plans.

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

I am always interested in meeting Supply Chain VPs but in this changing world I would also like to meet the Heads of Digital.

What is the most surprising thing you have learnt about the supply chain sector?

That there are still so many organisations that are average at planning albeit they have all the systems known to man. With this in mind I don’t actually think it’s the tools that are the issue.

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

I tend to be a gin and tonic man, but since I work with some big clients in beers, spirits, and soft drinks I do feel I have to support their brands too! 

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

Working with people to realise improved performance that helps to deliver a competitive advantage.

And what is the most challenging?

Typically the most challenging aspect of the job is getting people to change what they have always done so that they can realise the opportunities that exist.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Failing is okay providing you learn from your mistakes. 

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