Supply Chain 2014 in summary

Posted on 30 Apr 2014 by The Manufacturer

Closing loops, redefining boundaries, keeping simple principles in mind – these were all key phrases at TM’s Supply Chain 2014 Future Factory conference in London yesterday. Jane Gray reports.

The day opened with a stimulating presentation from Coca Cola Enterprises’ operations director Trevor Newman who communicated a fizz of enthusiasm about the way in which his company’s CSR structure is driving innovations for sustainability throughout its value chain.

CCE’s ambitious targets to slash the total carbon footprint of its products have prompted packaging and refrigeration innovations – an average can of coke weighs over 16g less today than it did ten years ago thanks to the driving ambition of CCE’s Delivering for Today, Inspiring for Tomorrow initiative.

Mr Newman also gave insight into the efficient supply chain partnership CCE has built with waste management company Ecoplastics, based in Lincolnshire.

A joint venture recycling facility at the Ecoplastics site enabled CCE to recycle plastic bottles vended at the Olympic Park in 2012 and return them back to new customers at the Games in an impressive logistical feat.

New sectors, new opportunities

Newman was followed to the podium by Dominic Brown of GROW: Offshore Wind who took the sustainability theme on a new tack.

Mr Brown presented a detailed view of the opportunities available, for an array of manufacturing subsectors, to supply to the UK’s nascent offshore wind industry.

The UK has one of the biggest installed bases for offshore wind power generation but currently uses less than 10% of UK-made content to build and support it.

All that is about to change though promised Brown, who shared targets to achieve 50% UK content in new installations in the next few years.

Brown emphasized that supply opportunities lie far beyond the visible part of a wind turbine and urged electronics manufacturers, cable makes and those with the capability to fabricate large platforms to consider how they might feed into offshore wind infrastructure.

If you’re interested in visualising more clearly what standard parts wind farms might need from you Brown recommends taking a look at the Crown Estate’s Guide to an Offshore Wind Farm.


Building on the theme of increasing resilient supply chains for nascent and growing industries in the UK, Stephen Barr, head of the Manufacturing Advisory Service with special responsibility for the establishment of ReshoreUK – a government initiative to support the return of offshored manufacturing contracts to the UK.

Mr Barr delivered an open and honest presentation which laid out the ambitions of ReshoreUK to provide a matchmaking service between large organisations and potential SME suppliers in the UK. He acknowledged that the initiative was in its early days however and sought feedback and advice from delegates who were certainly intrigued about ReshoreUK’s potential to help them compete in a globalised manufacutring marketplace.

Delegate comments were welcomed by Barr who, with an industry background, said he was not there to “sell” government initiatives as perfect solutions but to hear how their intended beneficiaries would like to see them improved.

“We’re increasing acting in a supply chain advisory capacity,” said Barr. And this means being aware and involved in national supply chains, analysing capability gaps and preparing UK manufacturers to fill them.

Superlative simplicity

The most popular sessions yesterday were characterised by their practicality and simplicity.

A presentation from Michaela Samuels, supply chains and logistics director at medical device manufacturer Olympus Keymed earned particular praise for its clarity and usefulness – it “took the audience back to supply chain basics,” said one delegate in their feedback.

Ms Samuels focused on the need for ownership and responsibility, strong process and the right attitude as the fundamentals of both internal and external supply chain management.

She highlighted the danger zones of handover points as places for potential inefficiency and loss of value in supply chain management and talked about how to motivate sales personnel to give accurate forecasts for the supply chain to work from.

Samuels’ straight forward tools and structure for supporting best practice and keeping the basics in mind despite mounting business size and complexity have brought dividends for Olympus Keymed – Samuels said she now runs a logistics cost for the company which accounts for just 0.75% of turnover.

Another useful tools-based industry presentation was delivered by Mike Osborne, operations director at missile manufacturer MBDA systems – this time with a passionate focus on the importance of structured relationship management in building effective supply chains.

His methodology for engaging and developing MBDA’s supply chain relationship is based on the SC21 programme structure – but builds on it with a number of analytics tools which captured the interest of many delegates.

Mr Osborne expressed his intention to present these analytics tools back to the SC21 board, so defence manufacturers who are already members of the scheme should keep their eyes open for these complimentary tools in future.

Money makes the world go round

But strong supply chains are not build on relationships alone and the importance of smooth financial transactions and cash flow were recognised in a presentation by Chris Findlay, founder of the Supply Chain Finance Community.

Mr Findaly’s presentation was the third highest rated by delegates overall, reflecting the high priority of regular cash flow in the minds of all.

Delegate congratulated Fisher in their feedback for his clear explanation of the potentially complex topic of cash movement in supply chain and one delegate expressed a clear intent to relate his suggested model for promoting better cash flow to their finance department.

Just trumping Findlay’s presentation for delegate popularity and offering a more left-field view of the ways in which manufacturers can be innovative with business models to drive profitability was Tim Baines’ presentation on the impact of servtitization.

Prof Baines modelled trends in margin, cash flow and value add at manufacturer who embrace advanced service systems. He generated a great deal of interest with his conviction that servitzation will prove as revolutionary for global manufacturing as the principles of lean production.

Topping the delegate feedback forms for usefulness however was Dr Simon Templer’s presentation which explored technologies for data capture and different models for measuring supply chain performance and value flow.

Dr Templer’s dynamic delivery energetically refreshed some core financial principles in the minds of delegates who reviewed the presentation as “thought provoking” and useful.

Slides from all the presentations will be made available to conference delegates.

Future Factory events

Supply Chain 2014 was a Future Factory conference from The Manufacturer magazine.

The next events in the Future Factory series will be:

  • 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing
  • Innovation
  • Flexible Workforce

These events will all take place on June 11. 3D Printing and innovation will take place in Birmingham while the Flexible Workforce venue will be in Manchester.

TM subscriber are eligible to attend Future Factory event free of charge.

Find out more about TM’s events portfolio here.