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5 Minutes With… Sparck Technologies’ Jo Bradley,

Sparck Technologies has a mission to make sustainable packaging the standard in ecommerce. Companies worldwide are now able to benefit from the firm’s smart packaging systems by saving on box volume, packaging material and personnel costs. Jo Bradley (pictured), Sparck Technologies business development manager in the UK, speaks to Supply Chain Briefing…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Now known as Sparck Technologies, most people in the logistics sector will remember us as Packaging by Quadient and will be familiar with our revolutionary fit-to-size packaging systems. We provide automated solutions for e-commerce operations challenged by increasing order volumes, labour shortages and rising shipping costs. Our CVP Everest and CVP Impack automated packaging solutions have the capability to tailor-make up to 1,100 packages per hour, for multiple or single item orders.

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

The eCommerce sector has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years and peak seasons are becoming more pronounced and more frequent. Capacity issues in despatch operations are becoming increasingly acute as volumes increase and labour resources become harder to come by – and adding to the concerns businesses face, consumers are now far more conscious of environmentally poor packaging and oversized boxes filled with void-fill.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Businesses have the opportunity to make packaging as compact and environmentally efficient as possible and that means making packages exactly to the size of the order – waste is no longer acceptable to the consumer.

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

With labour now a scarce resource in the UK, businesses will need to invest in and embrace automation to keep pace with customer demand. Packaging and despatch operations within the eCommerce sector have been heavily dependent upon freely available labour, but now automation that is able to streamline packaging processes by making individual packages to the optimum size of the order, at tremendous speed, holds the key to increased capacity and business growth.

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

Automation throughout the warehouse is accepted as the future of logistics. Labour, fuel and materials will all become more expensive. Environmental concerns will continue to feature highly with consumers, so businesses will have to look for ways to minimise wastefulness. Finding available labour will be difficult too, so businesses should apply automation to labour intensive operations, such as packing.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully no longer about Covid.

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

I have met many people over the years and look forward to meeting many more, everyone has their own part to play in the Supply Chain.

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

Some nice cold Rose – preferably with bubbles.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Unpredictability – every day is different and a challenge. I get to meet some extremely interesting people and have fun at the same time.

And what’s the most challenging?

It can be the long hours – but its worth it.

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

There is no such thing as luck. The key is being prepared to take advantage of any and every opportunity when it arises.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders.

5 Minutes With… Quinyx’s Ken Fernée

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Quinyx Account Executive Ken Fernée about demand forecasting, the need for agile flexibility, priorities for the coming year and the advantages of a happy workforce…

  1. Tell us about your company, products and services

Quinyx is a workforce management solution that makes the complex tasks of scheduling, time reporting, communicating, budgeting, and forecasting deskless workers simple, helping people and businesses thrive.

The company was founded by CEO Erik Fjellborg, when he was an employee at McDonald’s. After seeing how difficult it was for managers to sort shifts manually, Erik created Quinyx. McDonald’s loved Erik’s solution and became the brand’s first customer. Today, Quinyx is a market-leading tool that transforms and radically improves the way businesses schedule their staff.

The company helps more than 1,000 businesses around the world reduce labour costs, remain compliant, improve workforce efficiency and engage with employees – while boosting their bottom line, employee satisfaction, and retention.

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

The single biggest challenge caused by the pandemic over the last 12 months has been the difficulty in demand forecasting.

COVID shattered forecasts for organisations across every sector. Supply and demand became impossible to predict; historical data became irrelevant when patterns of behaviour changed overnight. From a workforce management perspective, it was near-impossible to predict labour demand, and understaffing and absences exacerbated the challenges. The picture is starting to improve but these challenges continue to be faced by many organisations.

  1. And what have been the biggest opportunities?

On the upside, organisations have been forced to become more flexible and agile.

We know from the initial COVID wave that companies with legacy or no software in place faced major operational hurdles. These businesses just weren’t able to meet frequent shifts in demand or deal with mass absences and changing legislation.

Our studies show that companies not utilising AI-fuelled workforce management software overspent by an average of 25% on salary costs and lost up to 15% revenue, due to ineffective staff schedules. They were also either overstaffed by 30% or understaffed by 16%.

Having automated systems in place makes it far easier to be flexible, and to successfully manage a flexible approach.

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

I believe there are several priorities:

1 – Become (even more) agile and flexible

While organisations may have had challenges forced upon them during the pandemic, these challenges have allowed them to re-examine their processes and remove potential bottlenecks. So while it’s been a very difficult time, those who have improved and streamlined processes are now optimally placed for continuous improvement and will be ready to adapt to change when it’s needed in the future.

2 – Improve visibility

There are two key areas where organisations need to improve their visibility. One is visibility over their demand. Being able to accurately forecast demand in order to match it with supply. The second aspect is visibility over your workforce to ensure organisations have the right number of employees, right contract mix and right skills to meet forecasted demand. Right person, right place, right time!

3 – Support your workforce

The past 18 months have taken a huge toll on the workforce. Organisations must have employee engagement at the centre of their people strategy. Every year, Quinyx surveys more than 10,000 deskless workers globally as part of our State of the Deskless Workforce report, and we know how much it matters that employees feel valued and able to speak to their managers about any potential problems.

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

While we’re all hoping for an immediate bounceback from the challenges of the last two years, unfortunately I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see continued disruptions to logistics. Awareness and acceptance of this, and being able to adapt quickly, will therefore be essential.

Digital transformation will continue too, with new tools that let us see the bigger business picture, and help to identify where time can be saved (and better spent).

Employee wellness, quite rightly, is becoming a big focus for more and more organisations. The pandemic further highlighted the challenges and opportunities for managers of looking after staff, and particularly underlined the demands and issues facing deskless workers across all sectors. With understaffing an ongoing problem for many organisations, staff retention is of utmost importance, and it really is vital that businesses prioritise employee wellbeing.

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

We’re biased, of course, but workforce management technology has the potential to transform organisations and sectors. AI-powered scheduling software can forecast staffing requirements at the touch of a button and based on several different scenarios. As mentioned, COVID was completely unforeseen and made forecasting near-impossible, yet workforce management systems provide the ability to factor in worst-case scenarios – and best-case scenarios, too. We’re now all much more prepared to ‘expect the unexpected’ and software like Quinyx’s facilitates this.

  1. In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully anything but COVID, or Brexit! Aren’t we supposed to have been replaced by robots by 2025?! Actually, I think in 2025 we’ll be talking about how technology is making human connection even easier. So the technology will be just as advanced as we once envisaged, but rather than it being used to replace humans – as once pessimistically predicted – we’ll be utilising it even more effectively, to help people stay connected, to help them do their jobs more efficiently and help them feel happier and more empowered.

  1. What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

It’s exciting and refreshing to work for a company that embodies what it aims to deliver for our clients. The Quinyx company motto is ‘Happy Workforce, Happy Business’ – an ethos which is believed and practised throughout the organisation every day.

  1. And what’s the most challenging?

I love a challenge, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day – I realise this is quite ironic when providing scheduling solutions.

  1. When I’m not at work you can find me….

Spending time with family, watching and playing sport

5 Minutes With… Dassault Systèmes’ Adrian Wood

For the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Adrian Wood Director, Strategy & Marketing at Dassault Systèmes, about the company, the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the industry, the rise of the remote workforce, automation and the importance of listening…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

On our website you will see that Dassault Systèmes provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Practically, that means you can use our technology to design, simulate, engineer and make whatever your customers need in the most efficient and sustainable way, even in the midst of disruption and changing markets.

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

The disruption clearly tested the resiliency and agility of our global, interconnected supply chains. Those companies that did not have true visibility to the real-time status of what was happening across their own facilities and their outsourced partners suffered the most: they didn’t know how to react and respond to the changes with any confidence.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Some industry segments saw growth based on specific needs. The need to enable remote workforces drove increases in technology, data and communication providers. Government aerospace companies remained strong and while commercial aerospace is slowly climbing back, many companies saw the slack time as an opportunity to update some of their technology infrastructure.

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

Most companies are now trying to determine how to gain (or regain) that visibility across their end to end network which was sorely lacking. In some cases, companies are looking to near-shore or actually regain ownership of previously outsourced supply chain operations to ensure they have more control and visibility in the future.

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

As consumers, we will continue to demand highly customized products and items with short lead times. This pace and complexity will increase and put pressure on manufacturers to become more agile as demand accelerates for products and services (including travel). I think it will start to separate out the true leaders from the laggards in industry.

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

I think it’s all about visibility and optimization. The concept of the “control tower” is top of mind for many companies, but it’s more than just seeing what’s happening; it’s about being able to take (almost) infinitely complex scenarios and develop feasible plans that allow companies to have confidence in executing sustainably.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Fully optimized and automated fulfilment. We’re all getting used to the “Amazon” effect where whatever you want is just a few hours away from arriving at your door. We’re going to want this for more complex products also and the industry leaders will be figuring out how to make it happen.

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

If I think of iconic supply chain “shifts” then people like Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell come to mind but really pulling off effective supply chain execution is a collaborative effort inside an organization, so I think you would have to think differently. I’d love to meet the team at Cisco as they seem to consistently be ranked top in supply chain capabilities.

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

Two things. The first (like everyone else) is how fragile supply chains actually are. The pandemic was obviously unprecedented but one stuck cargo ship is all it takes. The second thing is the lack of resiliency of supply chains. The pandemic has been with us now for almost 20 months and we’re still talking about stocking up on essentials and preparing for a lack of Christmas gifts. I would have hoped more innovation would have been put into effect by now.

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

I’m still missing my beach vacations, so I’ll take a Mai Tai or anything with an umbrella so that I can imagine I’m sitting in the tropics.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Being on the cutting edge of virtual technology and seeing how it interacts and impacts real life. We do so many cool things that continually amaze me.

And what’s the most challenging?

Connecting with customers and our audiences, although that is starting to get better. We’ve found some really creative ways to engage with people but you can’t beat standing in front of them face to face.

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

Listen before talking. In almost any situation (personal and professional) this is something that has served me well.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

That’s tough. Stranger Things satisfies my inner sci-fi nerd but having grown up in England around the area where Peaky Blinders is set (and even having a “brummie” accent for a bit) I’d have to go with the Shelby family.

5 Minutes With… Transport Services Europe’s Tom Stangoe

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Transport Services Europe MD Tom Stangoe about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, industry opportunities and technical innovation…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Transport Services Europe is a freight forwarding company that operates lines across Europe and the UK. At T S Europe, we believe that each shipment requires the same attention, attentiveness, and care. That is why our brand identity centres around positive customer service. We establish positive relationships with our clients by emphasising the importance of transparency and fluid communication. We aim to be with the customer every step of the way, ensuring the goods are getting delivered when promised, where promised.

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

The main challenges the supply chain industry has faced are undoubtedly the pandemic and Brexit. These challenges have compounded the driver shortage, causing turbulence in the supply chain, raising rates and creating delays.

In order for the supply chain to be operational, fluid communication is required between all parties. That is unfortunately the biggest challenge we have come across thus far, and it has been the issue we have placed most importance on. 

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The last 12 months have brought with them opportunities as the demand for our services has never been higher. Of course, transportation services are always needed, but businesses have begun to see the importance of customer service and understand the importance of communication. This allowed our company to stand out as we were offering a level of customer service that was not commonly found in the European logistics world.

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

It is critical that the driver shortage crisis gets resolved as it is causing issues across the entire supply chain. Understanding how the pandemic and Brexit have affected the supply chain is key to guaranteeing smooth sailing onwards. It is essential that importance is placed on ensuring there are good working conditions for lorry drivers, as their health and attitude translate into the supply chain.

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

The continuing effect of Brexit and Covid-19 will increase barriers to entry for import and, export in the UK. This will result in an increase in local production, increased manufacturing within the UK and, consequently, employment.  

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

An increase use of automation – in particular, around custom clearance AI.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

The development and adoption of electric trucks in the road haulage industry.

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

Matt Moulding, head of Hut Group, is a pioneer in his field and a great businessman.

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

How it is the perfect representation of the domino effect. Every element can create a knock on effect.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

The most exciting thing about my job is the environment and the colleagues I am surrounded by.

And what’s the most challenging?

The fast growth of the company, although a big advantage, has also presented some issues.

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

To be honest and transparent with everyone you deal with. Whether dealing with Employees, Customers or Suppliers.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders!

5 Minutes With… David Rose, Innovation Director at PALLITE

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to David Rose, Innovation Director at PALLITE, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, industry opportunities and technical innovation…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

PALLITE® is an ambitious, award-winning international designer and manufacturer of paper honeycomb board products from Northamptonshire, UK. We focus on innovation and sustainability. All of our products are made from over 80% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. We try to empower our customers to make sustainable choices while still achieving efficiency, productivity, and bottom-line cost improvements. We make everything from pallets and shipping crates to pop-up warehouse storage units.

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

Everyone in the supply chain deserves a huge pat on the back and the industry has definitely been the unsung hero of the pandemic….although I think more of the general public are starting to appreciate what supply chain means.

If I was to nudge towards the top three challenges, I would say the growth of online sales and the impact on warehouses and delivery; the management of spike demand (remember toilet rolls) and product shortages; and clearly the big challenge of HGV driver shortages.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The biggest opportunity is to recognise any shortcomings that have been exposed.

If we’re candid, we’ve all had them and like us, many businesses will have put systems or solutions in place to overcome these…and that’s made us all stronger.

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

Getting slicker and greener. Consumers want their order tomorrow.  Consumers also want us to be more environmentally friendly. These two priorities need to work out a way of going hand in hand.

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

I think it will be a year of settling from the COVID impact. There’s no doubt the container related challenges will still have an impact, but that aside, I hope it’s a greener way of working.

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

Automation. There’s still a long way to go but I’m seeing this more and more.  Anything from robots in warehouses to payments and invoicing being used by our customers, it’s here to stay and we need to embrace it.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

What we can do to be greener

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

I think after the year or so of Zoom and Teams, I’m happy to meet anyone!

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

I’ve not been surprised, but proud of the resilience.  Not many other industries can survive and thrive after massive demand spikes, COVID, product shortages, disruption globally whilst trying to embrace automation and being more environmentally friendly!

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

Guinness, Guinness, Guinness, Guinness then a red wine.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Love meeting new businesses and being able to help. I love it.

And what’s the most challenging?

Not having enough time in the day to give everyone the time they deserve.

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

Say ‘please’ when you’re meant to say please, say ‘thank you’ when you’re meant to say thank you and ‘sorry’ when you’re meant to say sorry.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Can I say Silent Witness?

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 

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