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Hubbub outlines challenges and opportunities for reusable food and drink packaging

Environmental charity Hubbub has launched ‘Reuse Systems Unpacked’, a report uncovering the challenges and opportunities for reusable food and drink packaging systems.

The report, unveiled at The Royal Society of Arts in the presence of key players in the sector, provides recommendations on how reusable packaging systems can work and what needs to happen for such systems to be used by consumers and become mainstream.

The research was funded by Bunzl and involved in-depth interviews with 40 organisations and individuals in the sphere of reusable food and drink packaging, from start-ups and small-scale trials to big brands and events, as well as people in the fields of policy, academia and logistics, including Tesco, DEFRA, Just Eat and Abel & Cole.

Hubbub also commissioned polling across the UK to gather public opinion on the motivators and barriers to individuals engaging in reuse systems for food and drink packaging.

The survey of 3,000 people shows a clear public appetite to cut down on single-use plastics, with 67% of people saying they want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products.  73% think more needs to be done to make it easier to use reusable alternatives and 67% said they’d be open to borrowing and returning a reusable container for groceries.

The research also identified the main motivators and barriers to people using reusable packaging schemes for food and drink. Price is the main motivator with 2 out of 5 people saying that being able to use the reusable packaging scheme for no extra cost would encourage them. Earning rewards or discounts for using a scheme, as well as knowing that it reduces waste and is better for the environment than single use packaging, would encourage 38% of the public.

In terms of barriers, concerns that the packaging might not be clean or hygienic was mentioned by 38% of respondents, followed by thinking it might cost more money (31%) and having to carry or store the packaging until it can be returned (27%).

Key recommendations  

Hubbub has identified 10 key recommendations to help reuse systems set up and scale: 

  1. Convenience is key: minimise the friction points and fit into people’s current patterns of behaviour.
  2. Keep the price down: the price needs to be as close as possible to single-use.
  3. Choose the right incentives: they play an important role to encourage use and returns, but deposits can put people off and rewards can lead to over-complication.
  4. Integrate logistics: innovation is needed here, such as creating centralised logistics networks in cities, backhauling through existing systems and developing new washing processes.
  5. Be smart with packaging design: clever design is about more than aesthetics; it integrates tech, encourages returns and reduces the environmental footprint of packaging and transport.
  6. Understand the lifecycle analysis: a consistent process needs to be established to work out the environmental impact of reuse systems in a way that’s accurate and comparable.
  7. Collaborate: a system working across multiple brands, locations and platforms will be more convenient and less confusing for users.
  8. Consider the role of tech: tech can simplify payments, deposit refunds, rewards and tracking usage, but it can complicate the user journey and put off some audiences.
  9. Offer reassurance: the public have concerns around hygiene which can be addressed through a robust washing process supported by good communications.
  10. Support through policy: a range of potential policies, standards, incentives and subsidies would support the growth of reusable systems.

Alex Robinson, CEO of Hubbub, said: “To effectively tackle the issue of packaging waste, reuse must become mainstream. For this to happen, it’s crucial that companies across the food & drink industry, along with policymakers, work together and learn from each other. The ‘Reuse Systems Unpacked’ report is the first of its kind and brings together the findings from existing schemes and systems, along with insight into public attitudes towards reusable packaging. It’s clear the public are hungry for change. We hope this report helps to accelerate progress across the food and drink industry and drives us quickly towards a society where reusable food and drink packaging is the norm.”

James Pitcher, Head of Sustainability at Bunzl plc, said: “It’s been a long-held mantra of Bunzl that the life of packaging does not end at the point of sale and our ambition doesn’t either. We have been using our scale and unique position at the centre of the supply chain to work with our customers and suppliers to lead the industry towards a more sustainable approach to packaging. To move away from a linear mindset to a more circular one we need to understand the opportunities and challenges involved, which is why we’re pleased to have supported this work. The circular economy has to go mass market to be effective and research like this means we’ll understand what’s collectively required to reach a macro-solution sooner.”

Hubbub has extensive experience of encouraging reuse through a series of campaigns and partnerships including the recent launch of the Bring It Back Fund, a £1m fund in partnership with Starbucks to support reusable food and drink packaging systems.

For more information and to read the report, visit www.hubbub.org.uk/reuse-systems-unpacked.

The Government Food Strategy: More research, policies and further consultation needed

The National Food Strategy published in the summer of 2021, was the first comprehensive review of the food system in 75 years, undertaken by an extensive panel of experts with detailed evidence-based recommendations. It resulted in the Government committing to release a White Paper to take forward or reject the suggestions it made.

The catering sector eagerly awaited its publication, with the hope that decisive inroads could be made into improving the health of the nation. The latest Government Food Strategy has now been published.

Here, two of the allmanhall team take a look: Tess Warnes BSc RD, company dietitian at allmanhall and Joe Evans, a non-executive director of allmanhall and current Chairman of the Environment Committee for The Country Land and Business Association. Together they address the recommendations, what this means for food supply, key take-outs and actions for caterers, and whether the latest report delivers on earlier promises and expectations…

A key theme of The National Food Strategy was to manage obesity and food poverty by equally addressing issues of diet and sustainability, with particular attention on a tax on sugar and salt and reducing meat consumption whilst increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The theme throughout the newly published Government Food Strategy Report appears to be a considerable lack of action, and instead references the need for more evidence and policies before committing to progress.

Tess Warnes BSc RD, company dietitian at allmanhall comments: “the main outcome seems to be the need for more research, policies and further consultation before any concrete actions can take place.

At allmanhall, we support catering teams with nutrition and dietetic improvements, so were hopeful that the Government would by now be in a position to implement some of the suggested changes. Instead, they seem to be shying away from any bold transformative recommendations, in particular issues around health and tackling obesity.”

Joe Evans, non-executive director of allmanhall and current Chairman of the Environment Committee for The Country Land and Business Association, goes on to critique the report from a farming and supply angle and whether it sufficiently addresses food security, balanced with sustainability.

“There is still significant thought required to address the acute challenges to supply chain resilience when it comes to farm producers, too. There are currently 9 main risks* to the UK food production supply chain. These need to be augmented with the very sensible and necessary drive towards Sustainable Farming practices.” The team at allmanhall go on to say they very much hope to see further evolutions of the Food Strategy to ensure a balanced approach.

So, what are the outcomes of the latest Food Strategy, and how far do they go to address the key issues of diet and sustainability?

The Government is suggesting further consultation is needed in a number of areas before any concrete actions can be undertaken;

  • Consult on the ambition for half of public sector expenditure to be spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental standards
  • Consult on how to improve on and expand animal welfare labelling
  • £270m to be invested across farming innovation to drive sustainable farming
  • Consult on food waste
  • Explore innovative feed additives that can reduce methane emissions
  • Launch a new partnership between public and private sector to provide consumers with more information about the food they eat while incentivising industry to produce healthier, more ethical and sustainable goods
  • Undertake trials to develop evidenced-based interventions to encourage healthier more sustainable diets
  • Enhanced monitoring regarding School Food Standards.

On the serious issues of obesity and food poverty, the responsibility has been handed over to be dealt with by the Health Disparities White Paper, which is currently due to be published later this year.

The report very much emphasises on the rising cost of living as a reason for not making any drastic changes, such as taxing sugar and salt. This had been a key recommendation from the National Food Strategy, but it has been completely ignored in this policy. We have seen how effective mandatory interventions can be, as evidenced by the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy led to a 29% reduction in the average sugar content of soft drinks (2).

The UK has now the third highest rates of obesity in the G7. Almost three in ten of our adult population are obese (1) meaning bold actions are needed now. The report acknowledges the Junk Food Cycle, as described in the National Food Strategy, but then does not go on to action any suggested solutions. Instead, it focuses more on individuals taking responsibility for their health. As we have seen with the continuing rising rates of obesity it is unrealistic to expect a reduction in body weight solely through individual willpower (3).

Due to the number of people in food poverty, which will likely worsen due to the rising cost of food, it is concerning that the recommendation to extend the eligibility criteria for free school meals has been ignored. Analysis from Child Poverty Action Group suggests 1 in 3 school-age children in England living in poverty miss out on free school meals. (4)

There is very little reference to the recommendations to alter our diet profile by increasing fruit and veg by 30%, fibre by 50% and reducing HFHS foods by 25% and meat by 30%. There is no reference to reducing meat or diary at all, and instead a focus on using different farming methods to reduce methane, despite the National Food Strategy evidencing that we simply cannot reduce methane emissions to a safe level, nor free up the land we need for sequestering carbon, without reducing the amount of meat we eat (5).

So where does this leave caterers? What can catering teams being doing now rather than waiting?

Tess Warnes BSc RD suggests that “with very little decided upon now, and so much hanging in the balance requiring further clarification, while we wait for further direction and policy from the Government, caterers can proactively start implementing some actions themselves.”

  • Introduction of meat free days
  • A ban on certain meats
  • One vegan or vegetarian option added to menu design
  • A minimum of two portions of vegetables per meal, already in line with existing school standards, widened into other sectors
  • Consider calling things on a menu ‘vegetable’ rather than ‘vegetarian’
  • Working with suppliers or procurement provider to understand the whole supply chain rather than just the last mile
  • Ask allmanhall about undertaking carbon impact assessment of menus
  • Address food waste in the catering operation – both sustainability and economically beneficial.

Finally, Warnes comments: “It’s incredibly frustrating that after all this time since the National Food Strategy was commissioned in 2019, we are not much further along with improving the health of the nation. Action is needed now to help reduce obesity and to create a sustainable food system. We will now await the publication of the health disparities white paper due out later this year in the hope that these issues are more thoroughly addressed.” Evans adds “It seems that the reality of conditions of farming are not currently conducive to also helping improve food security through increased domestic self-sufficiency.  This conflict needs to be addressed through the Government Food Strategy.”

*See allmanhall.co.uk/blog for details

References

  1. Bain analysis for the NFS. 1955 mean BMI interpolated from US historic BMI trends and UK BMI from 1977 onwards. Distribution before 1980 is directional using normal distributions around mean value and, therefore, is not an exact representation. Source: NHS Digital. (2018). Health Survey for England 2017 [NS]. NHS Digital. Available at:https://digital.nhs. uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-surveyfor-england/2017; Euromonitor. (2019); NHS Digital.(2019). National Child Measurement Programme; Gov.UK. (2018); Population Pyramid. (2019); Davey, R. (2003) The obesity epidemic: too much food for thought?; The trend of BMI values of US adults by centiles, birth cohorts 1882–1986, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010.
  2. Scarborough, P. et al. (2020). Impact of the announcement and implementation of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy on sugar content, price, product size and number of available soft drinks in the UK, 2015–19: A controlled interrupted time series analysis. PLOS Medicine, 17(2), p.e1003025. Available at: https://journals.plos.org/ plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025
  3. Adams, J. et al. (2016). Why Are Some Population Interventions for Diet and Obesity More Equitable and Effective Than Others? The Role of Individual Agency. PLOS Medicine, 13(4) .Available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal. pmed.1001990
  4. Child Poverty Action Group. Accessed online June 22 https://cpag.org.uk/news-blogs/news-listings/800000-children-poverty-not-getting-free-school-meals?utm_source=Sustain&utm_campaign=e1d5c654a2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_05_09_01_53_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d2d28e0c33-e1d5c654a2-261693085
  5. National Food Strategy Independent Review. The Plan July 2021. Accesses online file:///C:/Users/Lara/Downloads/25585_1669_NFS_The_Plan_July21_S12_New-1%20(1).pdf

Driving supplier sustainability: In uncertain times, control the controllables

By Mark Perera, CEO and Founder, Vizibl

I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation at Procurement and Supply Chain Live at Tobacco Dock. Given it was my first in-person event since the pandemic shut everything down, it was a real buzz to be in front of an audience of my peers again, and great to hear the contributions of the other speakers.

Like many of those speakers, I chose to present on the considerable sustainability challenges facing those of us who work in procurement and supply chain in my talk ‘Procurement’s Carbon Crisis’.

Though our focus was similar, I noticed a considerable difference in the advice I gave versus what many others were counselling. There was a lot of talk about baselining, about data, and about constructing complex, long-winded frameworks before we can truly embark on making progress against our sustainability goals.

Here I’d like to share the opinions and insights I gave to the audience at Procurement and Supply Chain Live and offer an alternative route to improved supplier sustainability that takes into account a simple fact.

That fact? We are running out of time. Running out of time to baseline, time to pore over data, time to model the myriad consequences of every decision we could possibly take, and – most importantly – running out of time to act. Thankfully, there is another way.

The scale of the problem

Today’s world is facing uncertainty on an unprecedented scale. With trade wars, the invasion of Ukraine, supply chain shortages, socio-political upheaval, food shortages, rising energy prices, the increase in cost of living, and the aftermath of the pandemic, we’re experiencing disruption like never before.

These crises are placing pressure on companies as they struggle to mitigate shocks to their businesses and handle the increased level of unpredictability affecting every area of their operations. This pressure and unpredictability will only increase as the climate crisis worsens – an issue that will inevitably touch every continent, every nation, every citizen, and every business.

Our behaviour, as people and as organisations, has already caused an enormous shift in our climate, with Met Office researchers predicting an even chance that the planet will exceed the 1.5˚C threshold during the next five years, if only temporarily at first. Without changing our behaviour, we have little hope of limiting this crisis, let alone averting it.

We are already 23% into the 2020s, and every 5 weeks we move 1% closer to the 2030 deadline. It’s clear we are not moving quickly enough to meet net zero by the end of the decade.

The importance of our value chains

As if the looming emissions deadline wasn’t scary enough, business leaders are facing a new challenge: the growing scrutiny of our impact beyond our own operations. Businesses, particularly large enterprise companies, are increasingly being held accountable for their end-to-end value chain emissions, and rightly so. No enterprise is an island, and the scrutiny of what goes on to enable our businesses outside our own four walls is growing.

The scrutiny is not unfounded. Today, 80% of most large enterprises’ greenhouse gas emissions sit in the upstream supply chain. Though these emissions sit outside of their direct control, the leaders of those companies are being tasked with using their power and influence to effect change in their supply base and bring supplier stakeholders on their sustainability journey.

Though decisive action is needed, no organisation can simply cull 30-40% of their suppliers if they are non-compliant without plunging themselves into further disarray as a result of lost products, services, and revenue. Thankfully, awareness has been growing of the alternative: working much more closely with supplier stakeholders, particularly the large emitters, to drive sustainability across the end-to-end value chain of large businesses.

Don’t wait for the perfect data set

Though it holds the key to improved alignment and engagement from supply base stakeholders, Supplier Collaboration isn’t easy, and there is a vast quantity of variables to grapple with in improving supplier sustainability credentials.

Organisations that we talk to frequently cite ‘analysis paralysis’ or ‘we don’t have the data’ as the reasons they’ve failed to take meaningful action with suppliers. Scope 3 is complex, the data is difficult to obtain, aggregate and normalise, and it can be hard to establish a robust baseline of supplier sustainability as it exists today.

In a world that values data-driven decision making (and as a data and tech nerd myself!), I get the urge to wait until the numbers come in. But we simply do not have the time to sit on our hands failing to make improvements until we can quantify our baseline.

The question we should ask ourselves instead is: if we do not have time to wait for perfect data, how do we make the best decisions without it?

Control the controllables: focus on what you do know

The process of improving supplier sustainability, particularly in regards to scope 3 emissions is usually one that I distil down to four steps:

  1. Constructing a rough estimate of value chain emissions (note: estimate – we don’t have the time for perfection)
  2. Prioritising your efforts according to scale and how much you can do to influence these emissions
  3. Seeking alignment with these suppliers over goals and targets
  4. Collaborating selectively to find green products and solutions

As I mentioned, many organisations will stall at step 1, convinced they don’t have enough to go on. But step 2 can be hugely helpful. I call this prioritisation step ‘controlling the controllable’. Put simply, we need to focus on what we do know.

I know for example, that most of my emissions sit in my supply chain. I am likely to have a good idea of what scope 3 category is largest (purchased goods and services), and which procurement categories my biggest emitters fall into. I know who those suppliers are, I know what products or services they provide me, and I know how much I spend with them.

Focusing on what I do know, that gives me a place to start. And it’s imperative that we do start.

Use a leading indicator

Another issue that organisations come up against with supplier sustainability is a second data-related quandary. Reliable emissions numbers or supplier sustainability scores from common frameworks are updated infrequently, and only provide a retrospective view of performance. This is because our ultimate goals (such as carbon emissions reduction in kilotons, as one example) are lagging indicators.

A key issue with lag metrics is that if we take the wrong route, it’s too late to go back and course correct when we get the data – which could be years out. What we need is a leading metric that measures our progress towards our goals and provides a reliable indicator of lag success.

Build active collaborative relationships

The leading indicator we use at Vizibl for supplier sustainability success is called ‘active, collaborative relationships’, or ACRs.

We know that success in supplier sustainability is determined by our ability to align our intentions and goals with suppliers, and work in close collaboration and partnership with them to effect change.

Active relationships are the defining characteristic of successful Supplier Collaboration. They denote relationships with productive activity such as ongoing projects, open opportunities, live initiatives, and up-and-running proofs of concept that are aimed at an ultimate shared strategic goal set out by buyer and supplier. This activity can be easily checked, its data is frequently updated, and successful collaborations around a strategic sustainability goal are predictive of success against that very goal.

An organisation running multiple emissions reduction projects with a cohort of strategic sustainability suppliers, centred around alignment of objectives and expected outcomes, with clear success criteria, would be an organisation with many active relationships. Correspondingly, it is also an organisation which is much more likely to deliver against its lag metric.

Just get started

Whatever your environmental sustainability lag metric, whether it’s net zero by 2030, a percentage reduction across all three emissions scopes, or reducing virgin plastics from your products, is one that we cannot afford to fail at. Though it can feel like we’re “flying blind” to take action without the data, three things are clear:

–        We are facing unprecedented disruption as a result of climate change, and we are running out of time to avert or limit its effects

–        Getting the data in is time-consuming and complex, and we cannot afford to do nothing while we wait to run the numbers

–        We can make robust decisions without the data based on what we already know, and as a result we can begin taking action to control the controllables, today.

Building active, collaborative relationships with stakeholders in our supply chain is the best way to control the controllables and make concrete progress against our collective looming deadline.

Supply chain crisis sees 85% of businesses move to ‘just in case’ model

Almost every UK organisation admits their supply chain needs improving, and over half (58%) think their supply chain needs a lot/significant improvement.

That’s according to research from SAP, which says that in response, 84% of UK businesses are planning to move on from the 50-year-old ‘just in time’ supply chain model, which prioritised costs above all else when selecting suppliers, to a ‘just in case’ approach. 

The findings from the “Tomorrow’s Supply Chain: Disruption Around Every Corner” report highlights that since the start of the pandemic, supply chain issues have been disastrous for organisations in the UK. 66% of businesses have experienced delays in production of goods/delivery of services, 64% have seen revenues decrease and 58% have experienced a loss of customers.

Given this outlook, it perhaps comes as little to no surprise that almost a quarter (23%) of businesses expect supply chain issues to last until Summer 2023.  

Earlier this year, the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The supply chain crisis felt by so many businesses could in fact provide an impetus for companies to improve productivity, and thus ensuring higher wages are not cancelled out by rising inflation”.  

But the picture for UK businesses tells a different story. For many businesses, increasing the price of their products/services isn’t an option to cover increases in supply chain costs. Instead staff will bear the brunt of any cost rise as 68% expect wage/recruitment freezes and 61% plan job cuts. 

SAP says UK businesses are looking to the government for supply chain recommendations, but they are torn over the advantages and disadvantages of deglobalisation: 

  • 60% of businesses want increased government collaboration with industry  
  • Over half said the government should monitor the UK’s supply chain itself and invest where necessary (56%) and there is demand for increased industrial policy and trade policy (54%) 
  • The majority (72%) of UK businesses think deglobalising the UK’s supply chains would be disastrous to economic growth but over half (56%) plan to prioritise UK-based supply chain solutions. 

Michiel Verhoeven, Managing Director SAP UK & Ireland, said: “The challenges and uncertainty facing so many UK businesses has meant that, for the majority of consumers, the days of wandering into a supermarket and seeing full shelves of produce now seem like a distant memory. 

“Where once supply chain management was mostly about cutting costs, businesses are faced with the challenge of staying ahead of consumer demand, while improving resilience, cutting carbon emissions, reducing staff churn and keeping costs down. Years of political, social and economic uncertainty, on top of a global pandemic, have exacerbated challenges with the UK’s current supply chain models. Whatever future external factors disrupt the movement of goods/ services, our on-demand consumer culture is only going to increase. Overnight shipping is considered late, with hourly tracking updates expected. A novel approach is needed to meet this demand.”  

Global logistics, consulting and manufacturing organisation, Unipart Group, recently announced a deepened partnership with SAP to deliver supply chain resilience and bring to life its extensive expertise in forecasting, Machine Learning, sensors and data & analytics.  

Commenting on the report findings, Unipart Logistics Managing Director, Ian Truesdale, said: “Although deglobalisation and other structural changes to supply chains like re-shoring may help UK economic growth, the changes and hence opportunities are more complex. We are seeing that growth can be increased further by developing a much more sophisticated approach to understanding patterns of demand and the impact of those changes along the supply chain to manage risks and prevent shortages.  

“It’s why we are re-engineering our processes and streamlining our data to focus on process design and governance, operational execution and data & analytics. In doing so we, aim to have the ability to forecast, optimise and simulate supply chains to provide greater agility and resilience,” he added.  

Elsewhere, findings from the study show that UK businesses are exploring various other avenues to improve their supply chains, in particular adopting new technology and implementing new contingency measures: 

  • 70% plan to adopt new technology to help overcome challenges in the next 1-2 years 
  • 51% plan to find new environmentally friendly supply chain solutions 

Michiel concluded: “It is exciting to see so many organisations are realising the importance of investing in advancing technologies to innovate and that are planning to adopt new environmentally supply chain solutions. Resilient supply chains must be sustainable, not only in terms of the environment, but sustainable against developments in technology and infrastructure in the UK and abroad. For decades, supply chain management has focussed on cost – where keeping them lean and fast has been the priority. This is different from being agile and resilient. With the end of ‘just in time’ models, businesses have to start putting the same expectations on their supply chain as they do on their wider business, structuring themselves to be ‘just in case’, so that when disaster occurs, they can adapt. Those who don’t make this change are in for a very tough 18 months.” 

Supply chain management & planning solutions – 2022 buying trends revealed

CRM, 3PL and Demand Planning top the list of services the UK’s leading supply chain professionals are sourcing in 2022.

The findings have been revealed following the recent Total Supply Chain Summit and are based on delegate requirements at the first of two events to take place in 2022.

Delegates registering to attend were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2022 and beyond.

CRM, 3PL and Demand Planning top the list of requirements, followed by EDI, Forecasting and Integrated Business Planning.

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

  • CRM
  • 3PL
  • Demand Planning
  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
  • Forecasting
  • Integrated Business Planning
  • Network Optimisation
  • Operations Management
  • Order Fulfilment
  • Road Haulage Operators

To find out more about the Total Supply Chain Summit, which next takes place on November 7th & 8th, visit https://totalsupplychainsummit.co.uk.

Phase Eight looks to ensure ethical supply chain

Fashion brand Phase Eight has partnered with Segura to strengthen its commitment and approach to ethical trade.

Segura’s solution will enable Phase Eight to modernise and improve the quality of its supply chain management, supporting its aim to embed full transparency throughout all tiers in its supply chain.

As part of the TFG London family, Phae Eight is aligned to the Group sustainability strategy which is based on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ETI Base Code and uses the ETI Human Rights Due Diligence Framework to improve the working conditions for the people in its supply chains.

As an established collaborator since 2019, the TFG London Group have partnered with Segura to support the development of the platform, recognising that the first step to enabling a successful ethical trade programme and decent work is transparency.

Segura’s threefold management platform allows Phase Eight to contain all supplier processes within one system that enriches supplier data and tracks updates in real-time, enhances how purchase orders are issued, embedding traceability into the linked trims and labelling requirements, and hosts a compliance suite that enables audits, corrective action plans, policy requirements and communications to be streamlined and automated.

Justin Hampshire, Group Managing Director at TFG Brands (London) Limited said: “As a purpose-led business that aims to put people and the planet first, it is important to us to continue to protect the human rights of those who help make and sell our products and services. We take our responsibilities seriously; when we champion higher standards and practices, we can have a real impact on the lives of millions of people across our value chain.”*

Francesca Mangano, Head of CSR and Sustainability at TFG Brands (London), said: “We understand it’s the nature of supply chains to be continuously evolving, but it’s crucial to us to ensure we partner with suppliers who share our values.  Our aim for 2022 is to focus on continuing to map our supply base beyond our second tier and the Segura platform will allow us to do this.”

Peter Needle, Founder & President at Segura, added: “We were delighted to partner with Phase Eight who share our belief in the importance of building ethical and sustainable businesses. We will continue to support Phase Eight with their evolving corporate sustainability targets.”

Calls for task force to tackle supply chain resilience

Britain’s manufacturers are calling for a cross-industry and Government taskforce to assess the UK’s current and future supplychain resilience and capabilities, as well as establishing an action plan to protect the economy from any future significant disruptive event.

The call was made on the back of a report by Make UK and Infor, ‘Operating without Borders – Building Global Resilient Supply Chains’, which shows the stark impact on UK manufacturers from the economic shocks of the last two years and the knock-on effects to supply chains from increased energy, transport and raw material costs, as well as transport availability.

The findings also indicate that the longstanding strategies manufacturers have adopted to off-shore in response to globalisation, operating a ‘just in time’ process with virtually guaranteed transport links and low-cost production, have been turned upside down with disruption and increased volatility fast becoming normal.

As a result, this has led to companies significantly increasing the number of suppliers so they have more options in the event of disruption, with these suppliers increasingly sourced back in the UK or Western Europe. Looking forward the report shows these trends were already accelerating in the next two years, to which the invasion of Ukraine and continuing disruption in China are likely to have given further impetus.

According to the survey, the biggest disruptor in the last two years was the pandemic with 93% of companies saying it had caused some form of disruption (for 47% the impact was catastrophic or major) followed by exiting the EU for 87% (for 32% it was catastrophic or major). Over half of companies also said the Suez Canal incident had caused disruption, even though it was blocked for only a week, highlighting the dependence on Far East supply chains.

In response, almost two fifths of companies (38%) said they have increased the number of suppliers in the last two years. Over two fifths of companies (42%) have increased their UK supply base (for almost a fifth it is a significant re-routing) with over a quarter increasing supply from Western Europe, including Turkey.

This trend is set to accelerate with over two fifths of companies (43%) saying they expect to increase UK suppliers in the next two years, with a quarter predicting an increase in suppliers from Western Europe and Turkey. By contrast, over the same period 12% of companies say they intend to reduce suppliers from the Far East.

As well as changing the location of their supply base, manufacturers have also increased the number. Almost a quarter of manufacturers (22%) have between 51 and 100 suppliers, a further 15% between 101 and 200 and 14% having more than 200. This highlights the complexity of supply chains, but also the need to ensure supply chain strategies are put in place along with technologies to monitor them.

Whilst an encouraging number (72%) describe their supply chain strategy as intermediate or advanced, those describing their strategy as basic tend to be SMEs with a clear link between the more advanced strategy companies operate and the number of suppliers. Furthermore, when it comes to implementing digital supply chain solutions manufacturers for the most part only have a limited or basic focus (28% for both).

However, at the other end of the scale, a fifth of companies say they have an advanced digital strategy and a quarter (24%) intermediate with two thirds of larger firms (64%) at the advanced stage. On a positive note companies are planning to significantly increase their spend on digital supply chain technologies with over two fifths of companies (42%) planning to increase their investment by more than 10% in the next two years.

For those companies who do increase their investment in supply chain technologies, the benefits are clear in terms of faster response times (34%), lower inventory costs (28%), greater operational efficiency (28%) and greater cash flow (21%).

In response to the major shocks to the economy and, the likelihood of increased volatility for trading networks being normal in the future, Make UK has made the following recommendations to Government to help ensure the UK economy is in a much stronger position to respond to any future disruptive events. (Extra commentary on each in Notes to Editors)

  • Government should establish a cross-industry and government resilience taskforce.
  • Supply chain software management should be included in the Help to Grow: Digital scheme.
  • Develop and publish public data that reports on lead times of raw materials to help businesses plan ahead.
  • Work with industry to explore how larger firms can provide greater visibility of supply chains at higher tiers to share information with SMEs with limited scope.
  • Introduce capital allowances or a form of tax break for businesses that adopt certain digital solutions such as blockchain.
  • Develop regional institutions and establish long-term initiatives to deliver supply chain support.

Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said: “For decades manufacturers have used increased globalisation and supply chains to drive efficiency and create lean manufacturing processes which have helped them grow and remain competitive. However, the economic shocks of the last few years have created a perfect storm which has turned these models upside down and forced companies to re-evaluate their business strategies and seek suppliers much closer to home.

“As a result, we may now be seeing the era of globalisation passing its peak, with disruption and volatility for global trade fast becoming normal. For many companies this will mean leaving ‘just in time’ behind and embracing ‘just in case’.”

Andrew Kinder, SVP International Strategy & Sales Support, Infor added: “Following a succession of shockwaves – Brexit, Covid and instabilities in Europe – supply chain strategists are examining the vulnerabilities of their supply chains. Long held beliefs in lean, Just-in-Time and off-shoring are being questioned, as volatility and uncertainty replaces predictability and reliability. The rules of supply chain are being re-drawn. Resilience trumps efficiency with winners being those who have been able to rapidly adjust their supply chain strategies to accommodate the succession of shocks.

“Digital technologies play a part in building resilient supply chains and this survey by Make UK provides much needed insights from manufacturers on their response to this new norm and their use of digital to navigate the storm. As a sponsor of this research, we support the recommendation that ‘Supply chain software management should be included in the UK’s Help to Grow: Digital scheme.”

The survey of 132 companies was conducted between 2 and 23 February.

Retail and manufacturing sectors ‘most likely’ to be targeted by a cyber-attack

Health, education, retail, and manufacturing sectors continue to be particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches, according to analysis of recently released 2021 ICO data.

CybSafe analysed data from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the UK’s independent body upholding information rights – following its previous analysis of ICO data for the first half of 2021 to discover the details behind the UK’s cyber security breaches throughout the entire calendar year.

While health and education remain particularly vulnerable to data breaches, the retail and manufacturing sector suffered twice as many cyber attacks as either sector, accounting for 20 percent of attacks overall in H2 of 2021.

Statistics within the retail and manufacturing industry also highlight a more general trend. The sector saw an increase in ransomware attacks, accounting for 27 percent of all attacks in 2021, up from 23 percent in 2020. In contrast, phishing attacks declined, falling from 31 percent in 2020 to 26 percent in 2021. This marks the first-time ransomware attacks have superseded phishing within the sector. Throughout 2021, ransomware saw a notable rise, accounting for 30 percent of attacks between July and December, up from 24 percent between January and June.

While the ICO data highlights phishing as the most common form of attack at just under 30 percent, ransomware continues to be an increasing threat to every sector.

As sectors adapt to life post-pandemic, the education sector is a prime example of how the cyber security landscape has changed for good. ICO 2021 data shows ransomware attacks increased to 22 percent (up from 19 percent), suggesting the trend is not subsiding despite children returning to the classroom. The sector saw a steep rise in ransomware attacks mid-way through 2020. They accounted for 26 percent of attacks in the first half of 2021 compared to just 11 percent in the previous year.

Oz Alashe, CEO of CybSafe, said: “The ICO data tells a clear story. The pandemic saw a steep rise in ransomware attacks. With important sectors such as education and healthcare seeing a sustained level of cyber threats throughout the last year, we need to go beyond standard security training practices.

“To embody a security-first culture, the human aspect of cyber security shouldn’t be underestimated. If we want to invoke genuine behaviour change, the first step is to appreciate individuals responding differently to threats, and personalisation is crucial to building an authentic security-first culture.

“Appreciating differences in teams means you can deliver tailored security initiatives. The result is greater employee confidence, changes in security behaviour, and ultimately a defence against such malicious threats that will only grow in importance over the coming years,” Alashe concluded.

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.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: High-speed automated packaging by Sparck Technologies

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Savvy shippers know their parcel packaging processes are complex and unique, and for that, you need the only company with unmatched support and service when it comes to automated packaging. Sparck Technologies has over a decade of experience in fully automated packaging systems, and we are truly the front runners in innovation since 1924.

Sparck is the global leader in the design and fabrication of advanced, fit-to-size automated packaging systems for high-volume eCommerce applications, and aims to make every parcel clients send out a brand ambassador.

Our client’s success stories support the foundation of what sets Sparck apart – consistent and unwavering dedication to lowering labour, shipping and material costs with smart, sustainable packaging.

CVP Everest

An order packed every 3 seconds! Step it up with revolutionary high-speed fit-to-size packaging technology.

The CVP Everest measures, constructs, glues, weighs and labels each order at full speed. By creating the smallest box necessary, you will improve your customer’s experience with sustainable packaging. This supercharged solution will keep up with your high volume fulfilment needs while supporting those ever-changing peaks.

Increasing throughput and scaling growth by packing up to 1,100 orders per hour, while saving up to 50 percent of the transport volume and up to 30 percent of corrugated board consumption.

Learn how the CVP Everest will save you both time and money.