Prime among these, he suggests, is the search for the best structures. That could sound like navelgazing but Dachs insists that ‘we need to seek out solutions in the physical supply chain and in the individuals engaged in the supply chain that will help supply chains continue to create value. I see this particularly in terms of encouraging supply chain collaboration across parties.
‘You can be effective in your own company but the real supply chain opportunity arises when you look over your corporate boundary wall to your partners and suppliers and work together to find the best overall system.’
As he points out, input prices to most supply chains, particularly of energy, are rising and will continue to rise as countries like India and China replicate the developments the West has made over the past 50 years.
‘Alternatives will ultimately be found,’ he says, ‘But in the meantime we have to rethink the ways we plan, source, and ship. This isn’t just about continuing to improve and refine our traditional and successful techniques in, say, inventory management, planning and forecasting, and execution. It may need some fundamental rethinking with our partners. Why do we have so many supply points? Why are we shipping part loads? What are the real costs of moving our sources of supply about? What is our impact on sustainability and the environment?
‘The supply chain obviously has a key role with all these issues and the ELA is a good forum in which to take the discussions that occur in the member country organisations, amplify them and form our own view.’
Dachs believes the present organisation has served the supply chain community well but that there is a need for ELA to change. ‘New strategies have been developed by ELA over the past year or two. It is my intention to make these strategies real by bringing ELA closer to the individual member organisations and to the enterprises those members represent.’
ELA has representation from 35 countries. ‘It’s the direction that the ELA, through its 35 country members, can bring to hundreds of thousands of companies, institutions and academies where we need to push ahead.’
Dachs feels a subtle change in emphasis will arise from the fact that he is the first ELA president for a very long time to be elected while still active in industry. Previous presidents have tended to be consultants or academics.
‘Nothing wrong with that,’ says Dachs, ‘Some great things have been done and most good ELA products have come from this angle. But in talking to presidents of national institutions there is an understanding of shared values that will enable ELA to serve the enterprises that constitute our membership – a belief that we need to discuss more what we will do over the next 10 years and equally a desire to push on with activity that relates to everyday supply chain problems.’
During his presidency Dachs wants the ELA to to take a practical rather than a theoretical view. ‘It’s niceto discuss concepts but it’s even nicer to be able to share real problems and implement solutions. So I want to move our focus to a different level.’
The ELA is also being rejuvenated by the continuing influx of members, especially but not exclusively from the EU accession countries and those waiting in the wings.
‘I’m aware that we haven’t got a vast pool of finance so we have to use core logistics principles. We need to work simply, practically and in a step-bystep manner. We need to be smart in the way we share roles among the able people we have, and we need to be modest and realistic in our objectives. If we do this we can push ideas that are of real value to our community and to people at large.’
- Roland Dachs is French but says he has a ‘Catalan heart’. He took his MBA at the University of Montpellierand has also studied at MIT. In 1996 he created the supply chain specialisation course at Montpellier and coaches other programmes.
- In business, his experience spans roles including purchasing, manufacturing, IT and the supply chain, for much of the time working abroad – in total, 22 years in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Hong Kong. He is fluent in seven languages.
- He is vice president supply chain for Crown Europe with responsibility for planning, sourcing logistics services, a variety of value-creation projects, and is a representative on various industry bodies. He is on the steering committee of the Global Commerce Initiative and co-chairman of the Global Upstream Supply Initiative.
- Dachs has been president of the French professional logistics body ASLOG since 2003 and was reelected in June this year. In the same month he was elected president of the European Logistics Association.