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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 https://totalsupplychainsummit.co.uk.

Survival, resilience and growth: A report on the UK’s economic recovery

As lockdown restrictions around the UK are easing, businesses are taking steps on the road to recovery. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted companies of all sectors and sizes, so the chance to revive operations and look to the future is a welcome shift for millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

While many businesses haven’t been able to function as normal due to the pandemic, and tough decisions have been made, that hasn’t stopped them from adapting.

From finding new markets to pivoting and offering new products and services, businesses have sought to find fresh opportunities to reach customers and keep moving.

But what does the future look like for SMEs in the UK? What challenges will they face and what steps will they take to overcome them?

These questions and more are answered in a new research report by Sage – Survival, resilience and growth: Placing small businesses at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery.

Key take always include-

  • Resilience is going to be as important as growth to the recovery. Not all SMEs, only 54%, are prepared for further potential shocks or challenges, including cash flow/liquidity problems, disruptions in the supply chain, and legal and regulatory changes.
  • 80% of businesses think that technology will be very or somewhat important in restarting their business.
  • 33% of businesses are actively planning investment in technology.

Click here to download the full report.

Third of supply chain leaders re-evaluating China operations

33% of supply chain leaders globally have either moved sourcing and manufacturing activities out of China or plan to do so in the next two to three years, with the COVID-19 pandemic just one of several disruptions cited that have put global supply chains under pressure.

That’s according to new research from Gartner, which surveyed of 260 global supply chain leaders in February and March 2020 across a range of industries, including high-tech, industrial and food & beverage, in North & South America and the EMEA and APAC regions.

“Global supply chains were being disrupted long before COVID-19 emerged,” said Kamala Raman, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Already in 2018 and 2019, the U.S.-China trade war made supply chain leaders aware of the weaknesses of their globalized supply chains and question the logic of heavily outsourced, concentrated and interdependent networks. As a result, a new focus on network resilience and the idea of more regional manufacturing emerged. But this kind of change comes with a price tag.”

For decades, China has been the go-to destination for high-quality, low-cost manufacturing, and it has established itself as a key source of supply for almost all major industries including retail and pharmaceutical. However, Gartner research showed that the margin between those companies planning to add jobs in China versus taking them away narrowed sharply in 2019. The primary reason is the increase in tariff costs.

“We have found that tariffs imposed by the U.S. and Chinese governments during the past years have increased supply chain costs by up to 10% for more than 40% of organizations. For just over one-quarter of respondents, the impact has been even higher,” Raman said. “Popular alternative locations are Vietnam, India, and Mexico. The second main reason for moving business out of China is that supply chain leaders want to make their networks more resilient.”

Only 21% of survey respondents believe that they have a highly resilient network today – meaning that they have good visibility and the agility to shift sourcing, manufacturing and distribution activities around quickly. However, 55% expect to have a highly resilient network in the next two to three years – a reaction to disruptions such as Brexit, the trade war and COVID-19.

However, resilience has a price. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agree that more resilience also results in additional structural costs to the network.

“We are at a crossroads in the evaluation of global supply chains that pits just-in-time systems designed to improve operational efficiency against just-in-case plans that emphasize planning and preparing for a range of plausible scenarios,” Raman added. “To find balance, supply chain leaders must engage in risk management to assess their organization’s willingness to take risk onboard and decide how to quantify that risk against other network objectives such as cost effectiveness.”

One-quarter of survey respondents stated that they have already regionalized or localized manufacturing to be closer to demand. Despite the cost of adding more players to the ecosystem and increasing the overall network complexity, regional supply chains can ease delays and shortages in times of disruption – if the model is economically viable.

“Many Western organizations will have to explore new forms of automation on the factory floor to decrease the costs of near- or onshore production. Some also favour a partial option, such as manufacturing in Asia and moving only the final assembly closer to the customer,” Raman concluded.

Image by wei zhu from Pixabay 

Transport & logistics staff more likely to be off work sick – Study

UK transport and logistics workers took nearly three times more sick leave than the average British worker last year, according to new research that identifies the countries most and least notorious for pulling a sickie. 

The research from time and workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch, found that transport staff took 11.4 days where other workers in the UK took on average 4.4 days leave for sickness last year.

Switzerland topped the charts when it came to excellent attendance with its workers taking just 1.6 days sick leave on average over the course of a calendar year. Ukraine (4.1 days) and Malta (4.2 days) made up the rest of the top three.

While the stats for Swiss workers are impressive, it’s important to note that companies in the country are also notoriously generous when it comes to annual leave entitlement – the average worker took over five weeks holiday according to recent statistics – perhaps making the sick leave by UK transport workers more understandable. 

However, with recent figures also suggesting that more than two thirds of UK workers avoid taking sick days and still go into work when feeling unwell, it’s questionable as to why transport and logistics workers are taking 3 times more sick leave and whether their working day is contributing to the illness. 

Bulgarian employees were found most likely to call in sick, taking on average 22 days off per year according to the most recent figures available. Workers in Germany didn’t fare too much better taking 18.3 days, with those in the Czech Republic also taking off the equivalent of more than three working weeks with sickness (15.4 days).

The full results can be found below:

CountryAverage days sick leave per year
Switzerland1.6
Ukraine4.1
Malta4.2
United Kingdom4.4
Greece4.8
Russia6.3
Sweden6.4
San Marino6.8
Romania8.0
France8.4
Hungary8.4
Estonia8.7
Denmark9.0
Ireland9.2
Austria9.7
Finland9.9
Netherlands10.0
Lithuania10.2
Croatia10.3
Belarus11.2
Spain11.6
Luxembourg11.8
Belgium12.6
Slovenia13.5
Slovakia14.2
Poland14.2
Norway14.6
Czech Republic (Czechia)15.4
Germany18.3
Bulgaria22.0

Commenting on the figures, Matthew Jenkins, CEO at Mitrefinch, said: “Workplace absences cost the UK economy a whopping £18 billion a year through lost productivity, with this figure expected to creep up to £21 billion in 2020 – so transport and logistics workers might think that skipping the odd Monday at the office to sleep off the weekend’s excesses is no big deal, but it all adds up. On top of the dip in productivity, employees who repeatedly call in sick put a strain on other members of staff who have to pick up their workload, which can impact workplace morale.

“However, that’s not to say taking a sick day should be seen as a weakness or a lack of commitment. Taking time out of a demanding role to recover from physical or mental health problems is integral to the productivity and growth of any successful business and the fact that more than two thirds of UK workers admit going to work when feeling sick is a serious cause for concern, particularly within this space where any human error can have drastic consequences.”

Lizzie Benton, culture consultant at Liberty Mind, adds: “In Britain we still live by outdated legacy attitudes in the workplace. Fear and control is what many organisations are run by, and for employees, asking for a day off sick is like showing a weakness, or admitting a failure. We all think we should ‘keep calm and carry on’.  

“It’s not just the act of taking a day off, but the repercussions this may have when an employee returns to work. Managers treating them coldly, or over-questioning their day off as if to assume they were faking it in some way.

“I think managers often behave this way because it is bred in the company culture. Attitudes and behaviours start at the top, and if you have a boss who comes in no matter how they’re feeling you create a culture where people feel they can’t take a sick day. Trust is also a key issue. There are many organisations who have trust issues with their employees and which have policies to control their people rather than help them thrive. Too many businesses still believe that people are just there for the pay cheque and will do anything to get the most out of the company. There is no empathy and a severe lack of emotional intelligence.”

For the full results of the research, visit https://www.mitrefinch.co.uk/blog/time-and-attendance/sick-leave-uk-vs-europe/.

75% of shoppers ‘will boycott grocery brands’ over environmental concerns

Over three-quarters (77%) of UK grocery shoppers have, in the last 12 months, switched, avoided or boycotted buying certain products, or would consider doing so in the future, based on brands’ environmental policies.

Kantar questioned over 1,200 UK consumers between the ages of 16 and 65+ about their concern over a range of environmental issues, their purchasing decisions based on a brand’s sustainability credentials, environmental responsibility  and whether, as a consumer, they had ever decided to boycott buying a product or switch to another brand based on its environmental reputation. 

Brand loyalty is lowest among the youngest age group of 16-24 year-olds with 87% saying they have switched or might do so, with more males (24%) switching or boycotting brands than females (18%).

Responses differ considerably among generations too, with 40% of Millennials saying they have avoided buying, or decided to choose a different brand over the last 12 months, compared to only 9% of Baby Boomers. However almost half (46%) of this generation of 55-65+ year-olds indicated that while they hadn’t switched or boycotted brands in the last year because of their environmental credentials, they might consider doing so in the future – the highest among all age groups.

Harsh working conditions, environmental pollution and the overuse of packaging are some of the issues consumers think carefully about before purchasing FMCG products. 

Much needs to be done by the FMCG industry when it comes to publicising the positive work it is doing to address the environmental problems resulting from the throw-away, disposable culture we live in today, say 76% of consumers. This sentiment is high across all regions (>73%) with shoppers in the northwest of England (80%) agreeing followed by Greater London (78%). Only 9% considered this issue unimportant.

Mark Chamberlain, managing director of Brand, Kantar UK, said: “Responsible living is being driven by cross-generational groups of ‘woke’ consumers that look towards inspiring brand heroes as change leaders. Governments and organisations are being forced to listen and respond to consumers’ demands for greater transparency as businesses strive to become more purposeful.”

Almost 90% of respondents surveyed agree that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste they produce and the impact it this has on our environment. This sentiment was high across all age groups (>82%) but highest among those aged 65 and over (92%).

Three-quarters of shoppers agree that, due to inaction from many of the world’s governments, they want brands to act as forces for positive change in our society. However, when questioned about their response, over 70% of all consumers agreed that efforts by businesses to protect the environment are ‘too little, too late’, with younger generations of Millennials agreeing most with this statement (78%).

Environmental concerns

Consumers ranked global warming as their number one environmental concern (25%), followed by the overuse of plastic and other forms of packaging (18%) and then deforestation and the loss of biodiversity (14%). They appeared less concerned about the depletion of the ozone layer (4%), extraction of fossil fuels from the earth and natural resource depletion (5%), overfishing of our seas (6%) and household/industrial waste (8%).

These and many other of today’s environmental issues are caused, in part, by a lack of responsibility taken by some of the world’s leading brands, say 83% of consumers; a sentiment expressed most among 25-34-year-olds (88%).

Chamberlain added: “The rise in responsibility and conscious consumerism is being influenced by a top-down approach as the consumer voice grows and pushes forward environmental and social agendas.

“Consumers now expect the FMCG industry to be driven by some direction other than simply making a profit. These values are fast becoming key assets in helping boost brand value whilst projecting a positive corporate image, and by doing so businesses can demonstrate a clear sense of purpose. This is what consumers are now looking for in today’s brands, and this preference will only intensify as the next generation comes of age. Purpose-led FMCG brands enjoy stronger growth and a deeper connection with consumers.”

The study says UK brand Divine Chocolate  is an  FMCG brand that has earned greater trust from consumers due to its commitment to becoming more transparent and respect for the environment. While Waitrose has committed to no plastic and glitter in its Christmas crackers in 2020, Tesco has stopped using plastic bags for home deliveries and Morrisons now allows customers to use their own reusable containers at their meat, fish and cheese counters.

Kantar says the most-loved brands will be those that attempt to achieve a zero-carbon footprint by re-thinking operations and finding solutions that are fully sustainable both for the environment and the business bottom line.

Other key trends:

  • Plastic problem – Over half (53%) of consumers rank the overuse of plastic and other types of packaging as one of their top three environmental concerns. More women than men are concerned about it (58% v 49%), with 45-64 year-olds expressing most concern across all age groups (60%).
  • Buying decisions – 82% of 25-34 year-olds say they sometimes or always check a brand’s commitment towards sustainability, the environment and saving the planet before making a purchase.
  • Taking responsibility – Almost 90% of consumers agree that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste their products create and the impact it has on the environment, with 50% ‘strongly agreeing’. This sentiment is strong across all age groups (>82%) and is highest among the 65+ cohort (92%).
  • Younger generations – Those most concerned with the issue of global warming are 16-24 year-olds, the youngest age group overall, with 65% ranking it as one of their top three concerns; of those, over one-third said it was their number one concern. 
  • Boycotting brands – 76% of consumers said they had boycotted buying certain clothes, had switched brands in the last 12 months or were thinking of doing so because of a brand’s environmental policies.

Forrester Wave Report: iPaaS and Hybrid Integration

Learn how to achieve competitive advantage via the right iPaaS and hybrid Integration platform and get the latest OpenText Business Network trends, insights and best practices.

In its recent analysis of iPaaS and hybrid integration platform vendors, Forrester names Liaison Technologies, now OpenText, a strong performer.

Learn why Forrester recognised OpenText Liaison for its semnatic integration technology, ease of deployment and excellent partnership with customers,

Download the Forrester report now.

Future fleet fuel mix in flux

Fleets of the future will use an increasingly diverse range of fuels – but there remains a mixed picture for diesel company cars despite new technology that is making them more environmentally friendly.

That’s according to new research from Arval, which asked fleet managers how the availability of new diesel vehicles with equal NOx and fine particle emissions to petrol models would impact on their fleet.

44% said they would continue to buy diesel cars and 5% said they would increase their share. However, 29% said they would continue to reduce the number of diesels they operated and 7% that they would persist with their current policy of not buying diesels.

The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.

The research also looked at how diesel vehicles would be replaced in this scenario. Interestingly, just 4% of respondents said they would opt for petrol cars while 22% planned to swap their diesels for alternative fuels.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “RDE2 diesels are starting to become available and some of them are comparable with petrol on NOx emissions while also offering better CO2output and fuel economy.

“However, it appears that diesel has become so inherently unpopular as the result of recent emissions controversies that there will be no large scale resurgence in its popularity, despite this development.

“Against this backdrop, it is important to note that around half of fleets are planning to continue to operate diesel cars, recognising their suitability in certain situations.”

Sadlier added that it was noteworthy that businesses planning to replace their diesel vehicles are more often intending to switch into alternative fuels rather than petrol.

“Roughly six times as many fleets will be replacing their diesels with hybrids or EVs as with petrol, and this should give a strong push to alternative fuel adoption over the next few years,” said Adler. “Certainly, we see many fleets swapping their diesels for hybrids.

“Our position is very much that the fleet of the future will use a diverse range of fuels, with the emphasis being placed on matching the needs of the driver to the right vehicle, and we are doing a lot of work in helping fleets start to make these decisions.”

Image by IADE-Michoko from Pixabay 

Logistics employees among most likely to suffer relationship breakdowns

Workers with a background in healthcare and transport & logistics are among the most likely to have experienced a work-related break-up.

That’s according to research from WMB Logistics, which polled 3,000 retired Britons about how their previous career choices and working lives had affected their personal relationships, particularly with their partners.

89% of retirees agreed that issues relating to their careers had affected their day-to-day lives outside of the workplace, with ‘a pressure to hit targets’ (29%), ‘long/unsociable working hours’ (24%) and ‘poor relationships with co-workers’ (16%) emerging as the most likely reasons why. 

When asked if their career had been a contributing factor in the breakdown of a long-term relationship or marriage during their working lives, almost one third (31%) admitted that it had been. 

All participants taking part in the study, whether they’d experienced a relationship breakdown or not, were asked to state the industry or sector they’d worked in to determine any patterns.

Subsequently, the five industries in which workers were most likely to have experienced relationship breakdowns were found to be:

  1. Healthcare – 65% (the number of relationship breakdowns in this sector alone)
  2. Transport & Logistics – 61%
  3. Social care – 56%
  4. Hospitality – 56%
  5. Sport & Fitness  – 54%

Those who cited that long or unsociable working hours were the main reason their work-life balance failed stated it had affected their relationship as they typically either ‘drifted apart’ from their partner (36%) or one or both of them had gone on to be unfaithful (24%). 

When looking at the industries found to be the most successful at maintaining a long-term partnerships, those working in Administration (5%), Hair and Beauty (7%) and Retail sectors (8%) all had very low percentages in terms of the number of failed relationships.

Just 5% attributed relationship/marriage counselling to their success, with over half (56%) disclosing how they and made time for their partner and left their working lives outside of the home.

A senior spokesperson for WMB Logistics said: “The majority of us spend a significantly larger portion of our waking hours at work than we do at home with our spouses and families, so what little time we do get should be spent wisely; talking, enjoying each other’s company and leaving work at the office. That being said, in many industries there are pressures and deadlines that will mean work spills into the evenings and weekends, and sometimes that simply can’t be helped. 

“As our research indicates, a lot of people are experiencing failed relationships due to the pressures of work creeping into their personal lives. In order to avoid this happening to you, try making a conscious effort to leave work behind as much as you can and focus on staying present in the moment with your loved ones. Relationships naturally breakdown sometimes, but you should never let your job be one of the reasons why.”

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

‘Only one in seven’ organisations are able to scale digital supply chain initiatives

A new study from Capgemini has identified a ‘clear gap’ between expectations of what supply chain digitisation can deliver, and the reality of what companies are currently achieving.

While exactly half of the organisations surveyed consider supply chain digitisation to be one of their top three corporate priorities, most are still struggling to get projects beyond the testing stage (86%).

The Capgemini Research Institute surveyed supply chain executives from 1001 organisations across Consumer Products, Retail and Manufacturing industries about their existing digital supply chain initiatives.

Eighty percent reported revenue of more than US$1 billion in FY 2017 and the survey was conducted from April to May 2018.

Key findings from the report include:-

  • Organisations are struggling to move their digital supply chain projects beyond the testing stage: While exactly half of the organizations surveyed consider supply chain digitization to be one of their top three corporate priorities, most are still struggling to get projects beyond the testing stage (86%)
  • Most organizations have spread their investments too thinly and are struggling to scale pilot initiatives: The organizations surveyed have an average of 29 digital supply chain projects at the ideation, proof-of-concept or pilot stage. Just 14% have succeeded in scaling even one of their initiatives to multi-site or full-scale deployment. However, for those that have achieved scale, 94% report that these efforts have led directly to an uplift in revenue.
  • Supply chain projects that lack strategic focus are less likely to be successful: The evidence from those who have moved to implementation suggests that companies are taking on too much, and not focusing enough on strategic priorities. The organizations who successfully scaled initiatives had an average of 6 projects at proof-of-concept stage while those who failed to scale averaged 11 projects.

Simon Mardle, Retail Supply Chain Principal at Capgemini, said: “Our research shows that the UK is starting to realise the value in investing in supply chain digitisation, with 58% of our UK respondents identifying this as one of their top three organisational priorities.

“It is positive to see momentum building in the UK as its understanding of the business values of these type of digital initiatives grows as traditionally, the region has tended to be more risk-averse than its global counterparts when implementing digital initiatives.

“However, in order to convert these significant supply chain opportunities into reality, UK organisations must ensure that their digital projects are bound by strategic focus rather than implementation for implementations sake.”

‘Vibrant’ British blockchain sector to benefit UK business

The most in-depth market research report to date mapping the UK’s distributed ledger technologies (DLT) landscape has revealed the potential of this nascent technology to disrupt industries across the country.

New research from Digital Catapult, an advanced digital innovation centre, discovered an ecosystem active across a wide range of sectors, with British companies at different stages of development and numerous industry-spanning applications to help lower costs, enable more efficient public services and improve supply chain traceability.

The report asserts that the UK became globally recognised as a leader in DLT in 2015, but that since then rapid changes have seen the UK’s early lead potentially slip behind China, Singapore, Malta and the USA, countries which have been more agile in their approach to DLT pioneers.

The new research report, ‘Blockchain in Action: State of the UK Market’, surveyed over 260 UK DLT companies, gathering concrete data on the breadth of the ecosystem. It highlights the opportunities from adopting blockchain and other DLT, as well as identifying the major challenges which must be addressed if the UK is to benefit from this high-potential technology.

Key findings include:

  • The UK’s DLT ecosystem can be divided into four major categories: distributed ledger developers (13%), dApp developers (35%), service providers (37%), and centralised systems (15%).
  • DLT is not confined to the financial services sector – the companies we spoke to are active across a wide range of sectors from manufacturing to the creative industries
  • 38% of the companies interviewed feel that their technology could be applied to all vertical markets, not just FinTech
  • 74% of DLT companies have products ready to demonstrate and are already generating revenue
  • 80% had used personal funds to start their companies, and are often led by mature business leaders using their own money to found the company.
  • 41% had raised a traditional seed round of investment
  • 25% were not currently seeking investment
  • 74% of companies expressed regulatory uncertainty as their most pressing challenge, with the irreconcilability of GDPR with permissionless, public blockchain development and a lack of clarity around ICO regulation quoted as key concerns.
  • Over half (54%) of companies have struggled to open a UK bank account with several resorting to opening multiple accounts around the world
  • Almost half (45%) of companies consulted required additional specialist legal advice to bring their companies to fruition. Many are concerned that lawyers do not understand the intricacies of the technology and believe they have received poor advice around ICOs and intellectual property protection.

The report was launched alongside DLT Field Labs, a new initiative from Digital Catapult that brings together technology businesses, industry partners and researchers to deploy and test the latest distributed ledger technology in real world (and close to real world) environments.

It says DLT companies are grappling with an unclear and fragmented regulatory landscape, amid damaging preconceptions about the viability of their sector and lack of authoritative legal advice. As such, the first DLT Field Labs will look at barriers in the construction industry that blockchain and other DLT solutions could help to overcome.

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, said: “Digital Catapult is taking an active step to improve understanding of DLT in multiple sectors for the wider benefit of the UK economy. To do that, and encourage further adoption of this technology, we must dispel the myths, cut through the hype, and educate organisations outside of the financial services sector to the varied applications of DLT and how we can help them to de-risk innovation.”

Law firm Mishcon de Reya has signed up as a lead sponsor for the DLT Field Labs initiative. Dr Alastair Moore, Head of Analytics and Machine Learning, said: “We’re thrilled to support Digital Catapult in its exploration of the practical applications of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies, not just in the legal profession but throughout any number of industries where there is opportunity for impact. Our hope is that by being a part of the DLT Field Labs we can help to accelerate the use and comprehension of DLT in our industry and, ultimately, provide better advice to enable UK DLT companies to fulfil their potential.”

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