Keeping Britain at the heart of global manufacturing - June 2015

Though full of potential, supply chains are too often misunderstood, much to the detriment of the UK’s industrial base, stated Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain, WMG at University of Warwick at Crimson & Co’s annual supply chain Academy on April 27th.

Big opportunities that could set the UK on the path to becoming an important hub for international supply chains are currently being ignored.

The supply chain has been de-scoped to focus primarily on procurement and supply management. In today’s globalised world, such a narrow perspective can be damaging to UK industry.

It’s about recognising international 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 become increasingly marginalised with no recognised role or expertise to contribute to the global supply chain network.

The good news is that it’s not too late for the UK. With the aftershock of the global financial crisis still reverberating and traditional models being challenged by the internet, the time is right to revisit the role that the UK plays in global supply networks.

Whether this be local supply to meet domestic demand, regional supply for the European market or global supply for the world. To capitalise on this opportunity and redefine the UK’s role at the heart of the global supply chain network, there are five critical ways in which the UK needs to view supply chains differently:

 

1. Functional to holistic perspective

2. Manufacturing to planning centric

3. Reshoring to right-shoring

4. ‘After thought’ to an integral part of strategy

5. Specialist function to a pervasive part of our social fabric

 

All roles in the supply chain are equal, as a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We need a nation where our boards have good supply chain representation and have congruent strategies to enable competitiveness today while building capability for tomorrow. Where everyone in the UK understands the importance of our supply chains and the critical role that each and everyone plays in supporting our nation.

Together, we have the opportunity to put the UK back at the heart of the network of global supply chains, back at the heart of the global economy.

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