Anna Cusmano has worked for multinational pharmaceutical and FMCG companies, logistics providers and B2B industrial services as a director of operations or general manager, working in Asia, Europe and to some extent Africa and India. She joined Castrol in 2000, as the Asia Pacific supply chain director for the industrial business. Then, with the BP acquisition of Castrol, Cusmano moved to the UK where she held several posts, characterised by, as she says ‘seeking operational excellence and best practice on a global basis’.
‘Our goal is: no accidents, no harm to people, no damage to the environment. So safety on the road is a key issue for us. BP is making a tremendous effort in setting ever higher standards for road safety via the Group Personal Safety – Driving Standard. And not just on the road: we are also concerned about what happens in our warehouses, when we deliver to our customer, and after that.
‘Our own logistics partners, we regard as “part of BP” and we want them to be as safe as we are. We are putting an enormous amount of effort into safety, not just in Europe, but around the world.
‘We want to set standards that can become the standards of the logistics world.
‘Another big challenge is IT. Our 3PL and 4PL logistics partners and ourselves, the manufacturers, have to attain greater visibility across the supply chain and also increase the speed of information transfer. We have to be able to answer the customer’s question – “where is my stock?” in real time, at any point in the chain.
‘Systems interfaces between manufacturers, retailers, 3PLs and 4 PLs and customers are still complex and the industry as a whole is not close, not close at all. There are always blockages in linking existing systems. There are new technologies like RFID, but their adoption takes time because people have to overcome their initial concerns.
‘The technology we need is there, but often it needs more development and more users. When it becomes easier to use, more versatile, the price comes down and the value comes up.
Cusmano suggests that RFID is not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’, but she counsels: ‘The idea is beautiful, tracking right down to item level. Retailers can already see that RFID will give value in stock tracking, shelf feedback, security and so on. Most manufacturers are still trying to work this out: they sort of feel it will add value – but how? Most major manufacturers are starting to adopt – or are investigating – RFID’
Cusmano’s other logistics priority is less obvious, but perhaps more generally significant. ‘Collaboration’, she says, ‘is the other big thing.’
‘The idea of dedicated logistics provision is going out of fashion,’ says Cusmano. ‘Of course, we will still need specialised carriers and modes for, for example, bulk lubricants, which require dedicated tankers, but the more we can collaborate with other manufacturers through our 3PLs and fill the space on a truck, the more this is a win-win situation. And the same applies to warehousing – we have to share the space with other industries and our competitors’.
Cusmano is involved in the ELUPEG initiative [see ‘Boardroom Briefing’ this issue] as time permits, but also works her own personal network of contacts in other multinationals, exchanging best practice and information.
Of collaboration, she says: ‘It requires an openminded person with flexibility and the ability to go beyond a cliché mentality.
‘The cost of shipping goods in Europe is already high and we in BP continuously look for synergies across our Group – where products and services can be brought together to minimise logistics costs.
‘But for me, the safety factor has to be number one when it comes to partnering with logistics companies’
- Italian-born Anna Cusmano gained a degree in industrial biology in Turin.Her career started in R&D in the pharmaceutical industry, and then took her into manufacturing, operations, logistics and general management posts in Italy, Australia and the UK.
- She is currently logistics manager Europe for BP Lubricants which includes global brands such as BP, Castrol, Aral, Veedol, and Duckhams.