Saturday 7th Sep 2019 - Logistics & Supply Chain

In search of alternative strategies

How many suppliers can honestly claim to have anticipated even half the supply chain initiatives enacted by major retailers over the last decade or so? It is becoming increasingly important for suppliers to prepare fully for forthcoming retailers’ initiatives.

When we look back, we realise how desirable it is to stay ahead of the curve. It is almost a cliché to argue that the best approach to supply chain issues is continuing adaptability, a constant willingness to accept change and evolve to improve the business, but it bears repeating – analysts cite persuasive evidence that proves such an approach is vital for long term business success.

TPL Logistics Management, the supply chain consultancy group, have long recognised the need for advance signposting of retailers’ strategies. ‘To that end,’ says Bob Wileman, commercial director, ‘we have scheduled a strategic thinking programme which intends to fully explore what we call the ‘driving inspiration’ behind retailers’ likely forthcoming strategies for suppliers’ roles in the supply chain.’

Doing this will, say TPL Logistics Management, help anticipate some of the forthcoming initiatives likely to affect suppliers. It is not a case of blindly second guessing retailers’ plans – rather, it is about getting inside the minds of the leading grocery retailers to meaningfully predict and assess their next moves. Those retailers’ fundamental maxim is well known, and is not likely to change: to improve product availability and supply responsiveness to meet changing consumer needs at lower cost.

This innovative strategic thinking programme has been drawn up in association with Unipart Logistics, the logistics and business wing of the Unipart Group. Since embracing the concepts inherent in lean manufacturing in 1990, the Unipart Group has gathered a significant reputation for delivering measurable operational improvement – achieved via the success of its logistics wing.

The joint programme will involve a series of high level workshops, with site visits to some of Unipart Logistics’ most successful operations. Each has a different theme, and each involves active participation from directors and senior management from organisations which have successfully addressed similar challenges within their own supply chains.

Senior supply chain exponents present will include Keith Jones, managing director and chairman of Unipart Logistics, Steve Whyman, supply chain director at Halfords, Neil Smith, director of continuous improvement at Unipart, Phillip Matthews, Boots’ former supply chain director, and Andy Greasley, VP supply chain planning at Airbus. The level of participation is significant: these are people who have actually been through the processes and have seen them positively impact upon their businesses. This is no mere theoretical flight of fancy.

The workshops and site visits build into a coherent  series of interlocking themes, each complementing the other. The first session,scheduled for September 13, offers an insight into the challenge of integrating a pull system into a retail supply chain. The workshop will examine the creation of a customer focus led operation across the global supply chain before honing this concept down to examine what it means to the retail supply chain in practice. It is centred on Unipart’s collaboration with Halfords in Oxford.

The second, on October 18, visits Boots’ NDC in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. Boots’ efforts to become more customer focused led it to appoint Unipart Logistics, whose approach culminated with a move to singles picking instead of thrice weekly replenishment.

A visit to the innovative Airbus factory near Chester will follow, on November 8, for what promises to be a stimulating session focussing on the tricky issue of improving delivery accuracy as the complexity of the overall operation increases. This has long been a significant issue for Airbus, and this session visits the company’s high volume production unit to look at the kind of cost model that is required to compete within a genuinely lean manufacturing process.

The last workshop and site visit will take place in February 2006 and will look at how the expansion of truly global trade has forced supply chain professionals to look at their operations in the broadest possible terms: how can it genuinely add value by increasing customer satisfaction? The chosen site is the famously lean Jaguar plant in Coventry, a company with which Unipart has a long established working relationship.

The programme culminates in a keynote address by John Neill CBE, Unipart’s Group Chief Executive for over 20 years, and the driving force behind the company’s contemporary vision. Along with Jaguar, John Neill will share his view on how manufacturers and distributors can continue to compete in the global economy.

The workshops are offered to Gold members of TPL’s Manufacturer’s Distribution Initiative – TPL MANDI. Not yet a member?

Contact TPL Logistics Management for details of their introductory invitation. Rhiannon Spurgeon: +44 (0) 1252 737939 Email: tplmandi@tpl-logisticsmanagement.

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