Celebrating Excellence: NHS Supply Chain and Unipart Logistics

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Ahead of the 25th Supply Chain Excellence Awards, LogisticsManager.com caught up with NHS Supply Chain and Unipart Logistics, nominee in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical category at the Awards

Taking place on 8th November at the Hilton on Park Lane in London, the Supply Chain Excellence Awards are set to be a night of celebration, as the best in the logistics industry gather together on this very special 25th Anniversary.

How does it feel to have been shortlisted for a Supply Chain Excellence Award?
We’re really pleased that the many well-executed actions undertaken over the last 18 months driven by digital technology and solutions, and a complete commitment towards employee safety and wellbeing has enabled Unipart Logistics and NHS Supply Chain to respond to the national crisis whilst maintaining services to hospitals and NHS trusts.

Against that unprecedented backdrop Unipart, as the logistics service provider for NHS Supply Chain, significantly grew the range of services. Logistics delivered over the last 12 months, which, combined with digital technology and sustainability enabled the delivery of best in class outcomes for NHS frontline and patients.

None of that would have been possible without the brilliant teams across the entire partnership. We are incredibly proud to have been shortlisted in two categories, after what has been a challenging year for everybody working in supply chains and it’s great to be recognised and seen by the industry as delivering best in class supply chain solutions.

What has changed in your project since you entered?
Unipart Logistics continues to provide a stable and high performing logistics network that meets the requirements of COVID-19, including the re-integration of volumes from other channels.

NHS Supply Chain: Logistics continues to successfully deliver a range of transformation programmes which includes supporting the smooth transition to a new WMS implementation and new infrastructure set up.

NHS Supply Chain: Logistics continues to drive improvements via the Unipart Logistics Service Excellence Programme, engaging with the customer base (NHS trusts) and demonstrating/shared successes and best practice realised through the various work streams.

What are you most excited for on the night of the Awards?
I think being in the same room as people and not looking at them on a screen is something that we are all excited about. As well as which, the awards really recognise examples of supply chain best practice so it’s great to hear case studies from around the industry, to network and be inspired by the way we are collectively approaching current and future supply chain challenges.

What do you think is the most important thing to focus on now in the industry? What should be the biggest priority when it comes to change for the better?
There’s no doubting that supply chain resilience will continue to be the focus for strategic supply chain discussions, the industry has learned a lot over the last twelve months.

NHS Supply Chain: Logistics will continue to create an intelligent, resilient supply chain that delivers value for the front line. Digital solutions, technology, network infrastructure and partner collaboration will continue to be key to achieving this.

Delivering all of this safely, and sustainably will continue to be crucial. The partnership between Unipart Logistics and NHS Supply Chain delivers a critical service every day to NHS trusts and we have a responsibility to deliver this sustainably and with the upmost consideration to the impact on the environment.

Unipart Logistics is supporting this by enhancing its fleet of sustainable vehicles across the UK with the aim of creating a long-term carbon neutral fleet. The new environmentally friendly vehicles offer the lowest level of carbon emissions to date and are being rolled out for dedicated use within NHS Supply Chain, as we support the NHS’s mission to be carbon neutral by 2040.

What are you looking forward to after the Awards?
Following winning the Warehouse Initiative award in 2020, for the use of digital solutions that enabled a revised, expedited and covid-safe design and mobilisation of a new warehouse facility, we used the case study and the example of best practice to share learnings and solutions across the network. The application of some of these solutions became critical to creating COVID-safe operations across the wider network in 2020.

Part of the Unipart culture is to share best practice within the organisation, and we have digital tools to support this approach to enabling operational excellence across all operations. We’ll make sure the best practice learnings from our entries are utilised around the wider organisation.

What made you decide to compete for the Supply Chain Excellence Awards?
Receiving a supply chain excellence award is considered the highest industry accolade. We’re really proud of the partnership’s achievements over the last twelve months and the way in which we’ve worked with digital solutions to keep our people safe and to support a COVID-safe, sustainable resilient supply chain that has maintained service and delivered value to end users.

While we are proud of our achievements, we also want our people to be recognised as delivering best practice solutions by the supply chain industry. Being shortlisted in two categories is testament to the commitment of all of the people who work in our business every day to deliver sustainable, innovative supply chain solutions.

How will you celebrate if you win? Where will you keep the trophy?
We’ll need to build a bigger trophy cabinet…

A win would be perfect recognition for all of the people and teams who work within NHS Supply Chain: Logistics and continue to focus on delivering sustainable, innovative supply chain solutions.

We would take the trophy around all of the network and formally thank everyone who has stepped up to deliver and support the service, by keeping our people and our sites safe, maintaining service and who have continued to focus on adding value and quality in the supply chain which enabled the delivery of best in class outcomes for NHS frontline and patients.

What are your hopes for the project going forward? What are your next steps?
The partnership between Unipart Logistics and NHS Supply Chain will continue to grow as will the transformation journey. Alongside Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL), the management function of NHS Supply Chain, we will continue to build upon the Service Excellence Programme through continuous engagement with NHS trusts.

We continually explore ways to grow the range of services delivered and to drive quality into the supply chain. One area of focus will be to establish improvement plans with Operations teams and leverage our supplier relationships to support the ambitions of SCCL and further strengthen supply chain resilience.

All of this is underpinned by a digital innovation and sustainability roadmap which combined, supports our ongoing focus on the delivery of best in class outcomes for NHS frontline and patients.

We’ve been engaged with the Supply Chain Excellence Awards over many years, they continue to be the pinnacle in terms of industry accolade and recognition of best practice – as well providing opportunities to network and learn from the experiences of some of the leading organisation and minds in the industry.

What difference did the project make for your company and for the sector?
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck it quickly became apparent that an emergency response was required to support frontline NHS services across the UK

NHS Supply Chain: Logistics were at the forefront of responding to the national crisis and, by maintaining service to hospitals and NHS trusts, this provided front line teams with the critical resources required to fight the pandemic.

The events of the last twelve months have certainly brought the critical nature of supply chains, and in particular resilience to the forefront of minds in all sectors, so for the industry at large there will be learnings around digitisation, supplier management, collaboration, and sustainability that become applied across all sectors enhancing and raising the strategic profile of supply chain functions in all organisations.

What are your impressions of the Supply Chain Excellence Awards generally?
We’ve been engaged with the Supply Chain Excellence Awards over many years, they continue to be the pinnacle in terms of industry accolade and recognition of best practice – as well providing opportunities to network and learn from the experiences of some of the leading organisation and minds in the industry.

Can you sum up 2021 from a supply chain perspective?
Challenging! The importance of having an efficient, resilient and sustainable supply chain has come to the fore as never before, being able to react at speed to a continually changing situation and keeping up with the pace of change has been critical. We’ve had to adapt and respond to our customers’ challenge – our challenges are our customers’ challenges and we are always focusing on pre-empting those and trying to find solutions.

We needed to be agile, and to be able to react at a moment’s notice. When the first lockdown happened, for example, we pivoted one of our customer’s businesses to online from being store-based and this resulted in a 1,300 % increase in online orders. I think that ability to react and still deliver for our customers in the moment will continue to be critical.

Our ability to respond, scale up and innovate has encouraged new ways of working and genuine collaboration to deliver critical service solutions. Digitisation and the use of technology to drive intelligent supply chain solutions and keep our people safe and engage has been key.

As the requirements of a sustainable, resilient supply chain evolve and become more complex, and critical in nature, our commitment to and investment in digital technology and in-house capability will ensure we have the infrastructure and services to meet the exacting needs of our customers and remain fit for the future.

Unipart not only prides itself focusing on what happening today but taking a long-term view to think about where the industry is going and how we can help our customers with that.

Customers recognise the vital role we’ve played in continuing to service and add value for end users, so I’m delighted that the industry recognises the partnership between NHS Supply Chain and Unipart Logistics as an example of best practice and for our people to see that together we are able to support one of the industry’s top supply chains.

Want to see NHS Supply Chain and Unipart Logistics on the night, along with other industry leaders shortlisted for their excellence? Book your table today!

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