Putting the UK at the heart of the Global Supply Chain

Putting the UK at the heart of the Global Supply Chain

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. ‘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.
  4. 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.
  • Professor Godsell has recently contributed to ‘New World Supply Chains: Britain at the Heart of Global Manufacturing’, a term paper from the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, and through her Supply Chain Research Group, at WMG, is committed to ensuring that the UK is at the heart of the network of global supply chains by working closely with industry to find pragmatic solutions to real supply chain issues. She has also developed a Supply Chains in Practice network for those who want to want to stay at the leading edge of supply chain strategy. For more information visit go.warwick.ac.uk/scip.