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Putting the UK at the heart of the Supply Chain

As Jeff Woodhams, Argenta's Technical Director, was having a bit of downtime earlier this week catching up on a bit of light reading he came across this article from last year. Having attended a number of events recently at the Warwick Manufacturing Group Supply Chains in Practice group recently he has been very impressed with both the calibre and enthusiasm of the academic staff, particularly Professor Jan Godsell, and the calibre and experience of the attendees.

This article is no different with the content still being very much relevant, although there may be of course some changes in the coming months with the political situation. As John Harvey Jones once said, “planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. And the nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression".

It is frustrating to see UK industry adopt a narrow and limiting perspective to the supply chain, especially in today’s globalised world. Such a narrow perspective is damaging to UK industry.

The UK is part of a network of global supply chains. To operate effectively in this network, the UK first needs to recognise that it is a part of the network, and then identify the most value adding ways to contribute.

Core Engine Structure - image taken from

It is about recognising global demand and configuring the right global supply chains to meet this demand effectively (meeting the customer requirements in terms of cost, quality, time and increasingly environmental and social sustainability).

Failure to do so will see the UK becoming increasingly marginalised with no recognised role or expertise to contribute to the global supply chain network.

It is not too late for the UK. Indeed, with the after-shocks of the global financial crisis still reverberating around the world, and traditional models being challenged by the Internet, the time is right to re-visit the role that the UK plays in global supply networks. Whether this be local supply to meet the demands of the UK market, regional supply for the European market or global supply for the world.

To capitilise on this opportunity and re-define the UK’s role at the heart of the global supply chain network, there are four critical ways in which the UK needs to view them differently.

•  Functional to holistic perspective: The supply chain needs to be defined in its broadest possible sense to include all the core supply chain processes (design, plan, source, make and deliver) and consider the extended network both upstream and downstream, as originally envisaged.
•  Manufacturing to planning centric: Planning is the glue that holds the supply chain together. It provides the opportunity for co-ordination and synchronisation along the extended supply chain. It is the overarching process across global supply networks that connects together different manufacturers, both large and small.
•  After thought’ to integral part of strategy: Successful organisations use their supply chains strategically to reduce costs today whilst enabling future growth. This can only be achieved if it is an integral part of business strategy and not a cost reduction focused afterthought.
•  Re-shoring to right-shoring: A holistic view of the supply chain, its link to a business’s strategic priorities, and the consideration of the total supply chain cost, helps businesses to evaluate where best to place their factories, warehouses and suppliers. This can be enabled by the intelligent use of network modelling tools a capability well developed in the UK.

Accreditation: Prof. Jane Godsell, 2015. The original article can be located here.

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