Outstanding entries from some of Europe’s leading manufacturers and retailers highlight just how far supply chain thinking has developed since the Supply Chain Excellence Awards were launched 20 years ago.
The winner of the Overall Award, MAN Truck & Bus, is harnessing big data to create a holistic view of inventory requirement in its spare parts supply network, not only improving availability, but also reducing inventory levels.
Shell International Petroleum took the Manufacturing Award for its work on analytics enabling it to strengthen collaboration between supply chain and sales and marketing – with the additional benefit that it has positioned Shell’s supply chain team as true business partners.
The growth of online shopping has been a game changer in retailing, so it is not surprising that Awards have gone to retailers that have taken a lead in developing solutions in this area.
The Retail Award went to John Lewis which has been working with Clipper on Project DICE, a best-practice click and collect solution.
Argos has transformed its delivery operation with the creation of a hub and spoke system and the FastTrack delivery model. Not surprising then, that it took two Awards with partner LLamasoft.
But the challenges keep on coming. The UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union will force companies to rethink where and how goods are sourced, where stock is held and how it is distributed. Simply keeping pace with the state of the negotiations will be a major challenge over the coming two years.
Not only that, incoming US president Donald Trump has made it clear that he will pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the EU-US trade deal that has been three years in the making, is now as good as dead. Organisations planning further globalisation in their supply chains will need to think again.
At the same time, rapid technological development is having an impact on logistics systems. We are starting to see the roll-out of robots in warehouses, adding a new level of intelligence and flexibility to the automation that we have seen so far. There are even plans for the use of robots for deliveries.
Only this week, Geodis said it had completed the first phase of a plan that will see drones being used for inventory control in its warehouses, and UPS has unveiled the beta version of a chatbot that can give customers basic information about services, locations and so on.
My congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Awards. They have highlighted the ability of supply chain professionals to respond to market changes – qualities that will be needed even more in the year ahead. For now, have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.