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Unicarriers UK

5 Minutes With… Mark Gleed, UniCarriers UK

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Mark Gleed, National Accounts Manager at UniCarriers UK, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic & Brexit, industry opportunities and supply chain diversification…

Tell us about your company, products, and services.

UniCarriers are a global supplier of forklift trucks and have over 50 years’ experience of supplying trucks and storage solutions to the UK market. Totally committed to developing the most efficient and cost-efficient materials handling and storage solutions, by providing a complete solution for all types of business, covering service, fleet information, health & safety, training, tools, equipment, and financing.

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

Of course, Brexit and COVID-19 have posed significant challenges to the entire industry and continue to do so.  On this basis, the Supply Chain Industry has had to become extremely agile in order to adapt quickly to the ever-changing landscape.  Supply chains have become much leaner and prescriptive – based on the consumer led demands changing and a greater shift towards E-commerce.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

For the Supply Chain Industry, opportunities have been vast due to the turbo-charged demand for online shopping and the move away from more traditional shopping methods such as the high street and in-store. For the Food Production and Supply Chain sectors, there has been an unprecedented increase in volume – sometimes consistent with Xmas periods at otherwise low tides in the year!  The consequence of this has been a significant increase in the demand for Short Term Hire solutions, and the re-gearing of fleets. 

UniCarriers have been extremely well placed to support our customers with the right equipment, in the right place and at the right time to allow them to meet the volatile new demands placed upon them. 

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

To remain agile, and resilient, and be quick to react to an ever-changing world.  With a vaccine-led recovery underway (both domestically and globally) societal changes and behavioural patterns which have emerged from the pandemic are unlikely to shift back to how things were pre-COVID, however, some old habits may begin to creep back in.

Those businesses which are unable to move at pace and adapt to change will be in danger of extinction in the face of the “dominant survivors”.

UniCarriers’ endeavour will be to support our customer base supply process, ensuring product arrives to consumers when required – with the aim of mitigating the effects of Brexit and the Pandemic.

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

2020 witnessed an acceleration towards digitalisation in supply chains. CEOs were putting off investment in new technologies but have since begun to embrace them.  Supply chain diversification will also emerge as companies seek to become more resilient and not rely on one, or only a few suppliers.

UniCarriers’ 360 – the ability to provide customers with all-encompassing support through: service, fleet information, health & safety, equipment, training and finance will be paramount to cope with ever-changing demands.  

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

There will be a sharper focus on E-commerce and Cloud-based Technology – which will be on the heels of greater levels of automation and digitalisation.

Cloud-based technology will allow companies to scale their systems as their business grows, and of course have the added benefit of accessibility from almost anywhere, as work patterns have shifted people increasingly to remote working.

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully, how we emerged from a global pandemic and the “new normal” that has become the adopted standard.  It is fair to say that things may never return to pre-pandemic conditions.

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

It would have to be a government minister with overall responsibility for the sector, to ask them direct questions about their vision. 

Whether I would get a straight and honest answer though is debateable…….

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

Companies’ ability to cope with disruption and quickly re-strategize whilst immersed in deep uncertainty.

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

A single malt whiskey.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Meeting a multitude of people across a very dynamic sector.  At UniCarriers, the focus is on saving our customers money through helping them with improvements in their operation.  This consultative approach is the differentiator which I enjoy the most – especially when I see recommended strategies put in place and delivering the desired results.

And what’s the most challenging?

From time to time the traffic congestion, as my job involves a lot of travel (though this has ebbed and flowed during the pandemic).

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

To take “ownership” of a given situation.  This is the only way to ensure that you can be confident of a task being completed, and to own preferences/standards.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders 

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

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series we spoke to Richard Aldridge, National Accounts Manager at UniCarriers UK, about the company, the joint impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit, market opportunities and the potential for automation…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

UniCarriers have been a global supplier of forklift trucks for over 50 years. We are totally committed to developing the most cost-effective materials handling and storage solutions for our customers. Our ultimate goal is to match operational requirements with materials handling solutions. We have an extensive product portfolio that enables us to fully consider the options without having to streamline our proposals due to a limited product range.

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

Both Covid-19 and Brexit have challenged the industry and continues to do so. These unpredictable times have allowed businesses to demonstrate outstanding resourcefulness and flexibility whilst adapting and altering the way they work; in order to come through the other side. The challenges have highlighted and promoted the importance of the Supply Chain Industry.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The opportunities have arisen from the necessity for businesses to adapt and we have found the Food Industry, as a whole, has been extremely busy. This has resulted in the increase demand for Short Term Hire solutions and projects that provide increased storage on existing building footprints. 

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

For UniCarriers, it is to support our new and existing customer’s supply process, whilst ensuring product arrives on shelves in a timely and efficient manner; endeavouring to limit the effects of Brexit and the Pandemic on consumers.

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

2020 provided a record year for industrial and logistics real estates and the trends suggest that it will continue into 2021.  Traders are wanting to hold more stock to mitigate the risks of both Covid and Brexit, as warehouses are close to being full, more sites will need to be built. 

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

With the increase of Ecommerce and small part picking operations, Automated operations will be on the increase in 2021.  End users will be focusing more on energy usage and cost – therefore, Lithium Ion solutions could also be on the increase. 

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

Much more Automation to suit the part picking nature of the industry in the future.

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

The ability to adapt and change.  During this unusual time, many companies have had to diversify and react to the new markets. It has been really encouraging to see how businesses are targeting a positive result from what has been a difficult year.

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

Gin and Tonic.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Being involved in materials handling projects from an embryonic stage and seeing it through right until the end.  The investment in time and working close with the customer, makes you feel part of their company and operation; when a project comes to fruition, it’s very rewarding.

And what’s the most challenging?

The vast majority of our time is spent in face-to-face meetings with our customers.  However, due to the current challenges, the transition to having meetings over Microsoft Teams and Zoom has been a difficult one.

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

‘Stick to the Process’ – our process is designed to create a robust solution for the customer.  Short cutting this may result in the customer not maximising opportunities from a new operation or a fleet replacement scenario.  

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders 

For more information about Unicarriers UK, click here.