While the current generation of management recognises that sustainable sourcing in the supply chain is a positive and should be encouraged, for the next generation it is seen as an essential value that a company must be able to demonstrate.
But how do you start the process? Launching or accelerating a programme to pursue a responsible purchasing policy is a major undertaking and a challenge for any business. Particularly for the biggest companies that may have set, established supply tracks and, much like the oft-quoted oil tanker, be very difficult to change direction.
While we all recognise the ultimate benefits of sustainable procurement, the hopes of today’s shareholders must also be recognised and so it is important to make the business case first.
Supply chain management is one of the most complex areas of business. Traditional supply chain management has always focused on low cost, high quality, reduced lead times and high service levels.
Now, in the present day, manufacturers need to take into consideration, not only supply chain issues of sustainability, but also the post-consumption phase of their products, the end of life phase.
There is a need to monitor and retain evidence of the environmental burdens and their solutions at all stages of the manufacture and supply process, including product transfer and through to disposal.
The brand owner is perceived by the general public, the end users, to be responsible for any environmental problems in the entire supply chain – from the sourcing base to end-of-life recovery issues.
When the above is all done correctly, the process and results are unfortunately invisible.
However, the other side of the coin can be seen by the problems besetting certain washing machine and tumble dryer manufacturers.
Supply chain sustainability is a business issue affecting a company’s supply chain or logistics network in terms of environmental, risk and waste costs. A sustainable supply chain can identify value creation opportunities and offer significant competitive advantages for early adopters and process innovators.
Another issue this raises is the feasibility of on-shoring the supply chain to enable transport and subsequent environmental savings, as well as the ability to monitor more closely quality and delivery issues.
The last three months have been dominated by politics and largely, from our discussions, manufacturers have concentrated on production and operations, leaving investment and other strategic decisions until after the general election and Brexit.
Our winter edition of Manufacture looks at the outcome of our recent outlook survey and key topics impacting the manufacturing sector at present.