Every quarter we conduct a survey among a panel of senior supply chain and logistics executives in the UK asking them what they see as the most important challenges they face over the coming months.
You won’t be surprised to find that keeping the lid on supply chain costs is always up at the top of the list. But elsewhere, we are beginning to see shifts of emphasis that reflect that changing conditions.
In the light of the natural disasters that we have seen this year, you would expect improving resilience and managing risk to be a major focus of attention – and it is.
But for many, a more critical issue is managing the growth in business volumes. Some 70 per cent of respondents reckon the level of activity will rise over the next 12 months, compared to 67 per cent last quarter.
This highlights a problem that is common enough, but can be fiendishly difficult to solve: namely how to fuel growth while avoiding allowing costs to run out of control.
In many cases inventory levels have to rise to meet the growth in demand, while the cost of holding and moving goods is rising all the time.
Clearly, agility and flexibility will be at a premium over the coming months. We will be looking at this in more detail next quarter.
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