Successfully managing supply chains in 2022

7th March 2022

Why the way you manage your supply chain says a lot about how you do business.

From PPE during the pandemic to petrol last autumn to your favourite foodstuffs on supermarket shelves at various junctures in between, serious supply chain woes have dominated the UK headlines over the last two years.

Global supply chain stories also abound, from a lack of maple syrup in Canada because of a poor harvest to scarcity of an additive essential in keeping Australian diesel trucks off the road, as it enables the exhaust systems to reduce emissions to the required standard. Supply chains represent the interconnectedness of people, business, goods and transportation. If one link fails, then commercial success and corporate reputations are at stake.

If we take Brexit, delays to exports and imports were evident since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020. A survey from a few months into 2021 showed that two thirds of supply chain managers questioned by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) had experienced delays of at least two to three days transporting goods into the UK.

Then of course the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains cannot be underestimated. Research from Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) found for example that 97% of companies which sell industrial products said the pandemic has had a negative effect on them with new protocols required for distancing, contact tracing and PPE in manufacturing settings.

EY US’s findings also showed that the pandemic accelerated changes that were already happening such as a race to digitally enable and automate the supply chain, everything from robots in warehouses, driverless forklift trucks and delivery drones. Increased visibility through Internet of Things (IoT) devices or sensors also became more important. And bringing things up to date with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, UK energy suppliers have already warned of price hikes this winter in addition to increases next month, due to supply chain issues with Russian oil resources.

We want our suppliers to know they are valued just as our own employees are; that they are vertically integrated into what we do. In return our suppliers need to share certain values with us. Scope 3 of our Zero Carbon Strategy covers emissions produced indirectly such as those by our supply chain from the manufacture of materials. Often harder to track and influence because they aren’t directly coming from us, we nonetheless plan to quantify, reduce and where necessary offset all our Scope 3 carbon emissions by 2030. In common with 85% of respondents to the EY US survey, post-pandemic we’re more focused on environmental and sustainability goals and are committed to building them into our mission statement.

Even though Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS told the Financial Times recently that there was “some light at the end of the tunnel” as supply chains are improving, the construction sector must learn from the impact of Brexit, Covid and the current international turmoil and manage its supply chains carefully and considerately.

For our part, we will be doing all in our power to work successfully with our supply chain partners on future projects.