Supply Chain – June 2023

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IN THE Logistics chief Ashley Naughton on how McLaren is changing at a speed fitting for the maker of Earth’s fastest road cars June 2023 | FAST LANE 5PL Providers UST | KEARNEY | UBER FREIGHT | MICROSOFT FEATURING:
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The SupplyChain Team



























































AI is taking over the world, or so some press reports would have us believe. It’s certainly playing an increasingly important role in supply chain, allowing companies to optimise and streamline in many ways.

Organisations are evolving faster than ever, and they need to focus on high-impact priorities, which can be tough, when you’re drawing in data, internal processes, and endless administrative tasks.

The number of products claiming to meet this challenge is bewildering, yet a one-size-fits-all fails to cater to the uniqueness of every business. It’s complicated.

But one thing we pride ourselves on here at Supply Chain Digital is drawing clarity from complication. To that end, in this issue we turn to AI guru Dr Adnan Masood, an engineer, researcher, and thought leader with UST.

Masood explains how AI is all about “creating a repeatable approach to processes throughout an organisation”, and “unlocking a company’s human ingenuity”.

Read on for more insight on this and on myriad other aspects of running efficient and clean supply chains.

“AI is about unlocking a company’s human ingenuity”




Bangladesh floods dampen rice supply chain


Dr Randhir Thakur: The Intel chief supply chain officer who has made the step up to CEO with one of India’s biggest businesses

024 FIVE MINS WITH Mariel Read, about the point at which technology meets public procurement is where lives can be improved

014 126 8 June 2023
026 042 052 072 9 026 MCLAREN Automotive Logistics Director Ashley Naughton on how McLaren is transforming at pace 042 BAE/SUPPECO How supplier relations platform Suppeco helped BAE’s AI Labs 052 BECTON DICKINSON Ensuring a resilient, responsible and agile supply chain 072 SUPPLY CHAIN Digitalisation means customers really are king 126 TOP 1 0 Fifth-party logistics providers JUNE 2 023 FEATURES

Business Design Centre, London

26 - 27 September
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Microsoft empowering manufacturing firms to accelerate supply chain innovation 82 June 2023 PRODUCED BY: JAMES BERRY WRITTEN BY: SEAN ASHCROFT 082 096 106 gettyimages1443559562170667a.jpg JUNE 2 023 11 082 MICROSOFT Yury Gomez – Microsoft’s Process Industries lead – explains why the company’s tech ecosystem is driving change 096 LOGISTICS Tackling the logistics labour issue is no small job 106 SUSTAINABILITY Circular supply chains –good for the planet and profitability 118 TECHNOLOGY How AI is helping deliver smarter supply chains
THE TOP 100 COMPANIES IN SUPPLY CHAIN Discover the companies leading the way, setting the pace and inspiring global business change. COMING SOON Join the community Sponsor opportunities Digital Content for Digital People


14 June 2023

Bangladesh floods dampen rice supply chain

Sylhet, Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most floodprone countries on Earth. Flooding is normal during the monsoon season here, but 2022 was unprecedented.

In July, flooding in the region of Sylhet impacted 7.2 million people, with paddy fields washed away.

Bangladesh is the fourth largest ricegrowing country, producing 7.8% of the world’s total.

This is why the country needs a supply chain that is resilient to extreme weather. Five similarly catastrophic floods since 198 have cost the country a total of $8.4bn. 15

Dr Randhir Thakur

CEO and MD of Tata Electronics
“As CSCO, it was my job to enable Intel’s product lifecycle, from research and development to high-volume manufacturing”

If one needs any proof that the stock of senior supply chain executives is rising, then Dr Randhir Thakur provides it.

In April this year, Thakur was announced as CEO and MD of Tata Electronics, a company that provides electronic solutions to industries including automotive, defence, aerospace, and healthcare. It is a subsidiary of Tata Sons, one of the largest conglomerates in India.

It is a key appointment, and interesting because Thakur has a supply chain pedigree, which is not a discipline that typically has provided a pathway to CEO status. More usually, it is the CIO or COO who tends to fill that role.

Tim Cook at Apple has long been the exception that proves this rule, but now chief supply chain officers are being seen as executives that carry a good deal of strategic weight. And so it is with Thakur.

Prior to joining Tata, Thakur was President of Intel Foundry Services. This is a business unit within Intel Corporation that was announced in March 2021. It provides chip foundry services, meaning Intel will manufacture chips for other companies. (This was a significant departure for the company, which

historically has produced only chips for use in its own products.)

That in itself was a key strategic appointment, and Thakur put himself in pole position for it thanks to his track record as Intel’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, a position he held for three years and five months.

As Intel CSCO, he was responsible for managing the company’s external ecosystem across technology, design, manufacturing, and product supply chain. “It was my job to enable Intel’s product life cycle, from research and development to high-volume manufacturing,” he says.

His team also managed Intel’s corporate sourcing and procurement, supply chain operations, as well as worldwide planning and logistics.

“In this capacity, I was responsible for Intel’s multi-billion dollar annual spending with external suppliers and partners ecosystem,” he says.

He also oversaw a global team of 4,000 employees including engineers, negotiators, data scientists, analysts, program managers, planners, buyers, solution architects, and product supply chain architects.

Prior to Intel, Thakur held leadership and technical positions at Applied Materials and SanDisk Corp, before which he was with STEAG

The Intel chief supply chain officer who has made the step up to CEO with one of India’s biggest businesses
The Future Of Manufacturing

Electronic Systems and Micron Technology. To say his experience is broad is to understate it. In total, Thakur has 40 years’ experience in global manufacturing, research and development, and profitand-loss management, and he has made significant contributions to advancement of advanced semiconductor technologies.

And now Thakur is bringing all that experience to bear at Tata Electronics. Headquartered in Bangalore, its offerings include electric and hybrid vehicle solutions, telematics and infotainment systems, advanced driver-assistance systems, and electronics for aerospace and defence applications.

It also provides engineering and design services, as well as research and development support.

Thakur says of himself: “I have deep expertise in ecosystem leadership, process technology equipment, and with driving mergers and acquisitions, while collaborating closely with ecosystem partners and customers.”

Thakur has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

He was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2013. He holds more than 300 patents in the semiconductor field.

Upon joining Tata Group, he said: “I am humbled to be given the




Prior to joining Tata, Thakur was President of Intel Foundry Services, which provides chip foundry services, meaning Intel will manufacture chips for other companies.

Before this he was Intel’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, a position he held for three years and five months.

As Intel CSCO, he was responsible for managing the company’s external ecosystem across technology, design, manufacturing, and product supply chain.

In total, Thakur has 40 years’ experience in global manufacturing has made significant contributions to advancement of advanced semiconductor technologies.

opportunity of a lifetime to work for Tata. I am excited to contribute to building Tata Electronics as an integral and trusted part of the global electronics industry, enabling our customers’ success.

“For semiconductors, as well as precision manufacturing, we intend to deliver innovation, quality, and cost advantage with speed and at scale.” 19


CEO and Co-founder of Pavilion


» After starting a career in tech, I joined the San Francisco Mayor’s Office. During my time in public service, I saw an opportunity to use technology to strengthen public procurement – a $2tn industry that touches all Americans. As a public servant, I saw how procurement impacts the speed and quality of all public services. For instance, it was taking the Health and Human Services (HHS) more than 300 days to complete foster care parent applications. My team oversaw the development of technology to massively reduce processing times, and the experience made me wonder how one could unlock the impact of more-efficient procurement at scale? I founded Pavilion to find out.

FIVE MINUTES WITH... 20 June 2023
Mariel Read says, the point at which technology meets public procurement is where lives can be improved


» Pavilion enables public servants to easily find and purchase from contracts that have been solicited by other public entities, expediting procurement for public servants and reducing costs for suppliers.

Technology expedites the release of improvements to public services. When one public entity has de-risked a new supplier, or category of product or service then other public entities should be able to access it quickly.

We enhance the relationship between everyday Americans and their government, regardless of whether they are taxpayers, public sector employees, consumers of public services, or businesses that supply the government.


» In two main ways. It improves the citizen experience and it addresses significant challenges, such as climate change and cybersecurity.

Yet despite this, many innovative companies are hesitant to sell to the public sector due to slow market scaling. Making procurement more seamless on both sides of the table can help.

Technologies like ours reduce costs, increase efficiency, and encourage diverse business participation – all resulting in better, faster public services.


» Procurement is falling short of its potential due to outdated technology. Public servants seeking qualified

“The culture of your business is you on your worst day” 21




Before founding Pavilion, Mariel Reed joined the San Francisco Mayor’s Office. During her time in public service, she saw an opportunity to use technology to strengthen public procurement. She sais the experience made her wonder how one could unlock the impact of more-efficient procurement at scale? “I founded Pavilion to find out,” she says.

suppliers must resort to 90s techniques: email, phone calls, or visiting individual government websites.

I started Pavilion because it shouldn’t take hours to find information about a government contract or supplier. I’m optimistic that by helping public servants instantly discover and reuse contracts that have been competitively solicited by peer public entities, we can help government agencies keep pace with innovation happening in the private sector.


» Estonia has emerged as a global leader by demonstrating a strong focus on technology, which has significantly impacted its public procurement sector. By digitising and standardising the procurement infrastructure across the country, from posting new opportunities

“Estonia has emerged as a global leader in public sector procurement”
22 June 2023

to awarding contracts, Estonia has increased efficiencies, reduced corruption risks, lowered costs, and promoted participation by small and less-incumbent businesses. The system also enables vast amounts of data collection, which allows the government to identify further areas for improvement and optimization.


» My grandfather. He came to America as a homeless 15 year-old refugee, and survived only by the generosity of a local synagogue. He spent the rest of his life paying this kindness forward. He fought Jewish persecution by building an organisation out of his Knoxville home that helped dozens of Jewish refugees succeed in America.


» A fellow founder once shared this gem with me: “Your culture is you on your worst day.”

One of the toughest lessons is that when something in your organisation is wrong you have to look in the mirror. As a founder your behaviour and actions set the tone.

So I’ve tried to focus even more on my own behaviour in order to help the team keep a sense of calm, to assume the best intent and – even on my worst days – to try and remember to be kind and have a sense of humour.

Founder Stories from A-Z: Mariel Reed, CEO of Pavilion (fka CoProcure)

Supply chain Transformation in the FAS

26 June 2023

Automotive Logistics Director Ashley Naughton on how McLaren is transforming at a pace one might expect from the maker of Earth’s fastest road cars

Few companies have the pedigree, history and pure elan of McLaren Automotive, the British manufacturer of luxury, highperformance sports cars and supercars. McLaren was founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand-born racing driver, and initially the company designed and built only race cars. In recent years, though, it has shifted its focus to high-performance road cars.

Building McLaren's fast-cardedicated logistics function

Its current lineup includes several models, including the 720S (£227,300/$305,000), and GT (£166,300/$204,990), all of which are midengine sports cars (meaning the engine sits between the axle lines of the front and rear wheels). The company’s latest model is the hybrid-powered Artura (£189,200/$233,000), which was introduced in 2021.

In addition to its road cars, McLaren Automotive also produces racing cars and provides support for various racing teams. McLaren Automotive has been at the forefront of automotive technology, leveraging its experience in F1 to translate this excellence into its road cars. Like other F1 teams (Williams and Mercedes) it is based in

28 June 2023 29

South East England – in Woking, Surrey, – but has a worldwide network of suppliers.

The Woking facility is a state-of-the-art complex that includes design studios, as well as engineering and production facilities

for McLaren’s road cars, including the GT, Supercars and Ultimate cars.

The centrepiece of the Woking campus is the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC). It’s a stunning, futuristic building designed by famed architect Norman Foster, and is the kind of structure one can picture housing a colony of humans on the Moon, or even Mars.

The MTC houses McLaren’s design and engineering teams, home to advanced simulation and testing facilities, including wind tunnels and a driving simulator. McLaren Production Centre sits adjacent to the MTC and is the focus for its supercar operations.

In addition to its Woking HQ, McLaren has a world-class, state-of-the-art

“We make fast cars and have a fastmoving business, and sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge”
30 June 2023 MCLAREN

McLaren Composite Technology Centre that manufactures its carbon fibre chassis architecture. It is based in Sheffield, in the North of England.

And overseeing all of the logistics holding these operations together is Logistics Director Ashley Naughton, who concedes that the most challenging aspect of the role is – aptly enough, given the dizzying speed of its products – “having to work at pace”.

“We make fast cars and we have a fastmoving business, and sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge,” he adds. But Naughton is battle-hardened on this front, having spent more than a quarter of a century in logistics and supply chain, working largely







Naughton brings over 25 years' global industry experience from aerospace and automotive supply chain.

During his career, highlights include 18 years working for Rolls-Royce PLC holding various operational leadership roles in the UK & USA.

In recent years, Naughton has been focusing on supply chain transformation and digitalisation with some of the UK’s largest automotive


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Capgemini Invent: driving efficiency in McLaren’s supply chain

In today’s volatile climate, Capgemini Invent & McLaren are on a three year path to building a strong and sustainable supply chain to support McLaren’s expansive future.

Capgemini Invent enables CxOs to envision and shape the future of their businesses. It is working all over the world to enable its clients to unleash human energy through technology for a more inclusive and sustainable future.

“We partner with our clients to unlock the value of technology and help them transform their businesses, and support management and stable growth,” says Phil Davies, Capgemini Invent’s Head of Intelligent Industry in the UK.

Davies distils this process into three key stages:

y Using technology to advance the consumer experience

y Accelerating intelligent industry

y Transforming client enterprise efficiencies

Capgemini Invent recently began working with British supercar giant McLaren on

its logistic operations, looking at how it can combine technology, people and processes to drive resilience and sustainability into those operations.

“The world today is much more volatile; supply chains are constantly disrupted,” adds Davies. “We are working with McLaren to implement a strategy to cope and live with that disruption.”

The three main elements of the relationship are:

y Driving efficiency into McLaren’s supply chain

y Supporting McLaren with the transformation of its logistics operation

y Providing a three-year vision

“The three-year vision is really focused on how to create a logistics operation that’s going to thrive in this volatile future,” explains Davies. “Propelling them to unleash the potential of their organisation.

“The aim is to allow them to continue their relentless focus on customer experience and quality whilst building that resilience and visibility they need to cope in today’s volatile world.”

Ashley Naughton, Logistics Director at McLaren, adds: “Capgemini has been an instrumental partner for us. They’ve brought in thought leadership and shared the best industry practices, not only with automotive clients but also other industry sectors, which allows us to learn how other sectors are approaching different problems.”

“I think both McLaren and Capgemini are organisations that really focus on outcomes,” concludes Davies. “So, whilst we’re in the early stages of building the vision, I would say ‘watch this space’ around the next 18 months.”

McLaren: supply chain transformation in the fast lane

in aerospace and automotive, with firsttier suppliers, in either manufacturing or logistics services.

He says the most satisfying aspect of his role at McLaren is “working with our people”.

He adds: “It’s a very passionate organisation, with a rich history in automotive and racing. The innovation and ingenuity of the people is really quite inspiring.

“We also have a very complex product,” he says, “which means we’ve got extremely specialised suppliers, and we are constantly looking to improve the business.”

This, Naughton observes, often means his team has to react super quickly, and concedes this puts pressure on people “to support what the business is trying to achieve”.

Along with logistics chiefs worldwide, Naughton’s ability to support McLaren goals

“Capgemini has been very supportive in helping us to understand the art of the possible”
34 June 2023 MCLAREN

has not been made any easier by a multitude of shocks and pressures existing today.

Overcoming obstacles with digitalisation, determination & data

Whether that be raw materials shortages, capacity limitations or cost pressures, it all presents challenges. It’s a situation that makes him more determined than ever to future-proof McLaren’s supply chain.

“It’s about mitigating challenges that are as yet unknown,” he says. “Having information early on in our supply chain is very important. We don’t always know what’s around the corner, so it’s about understanding the risks to our business, and making decisions based on that understanding to safeguard ourselves.”

And what of the longest and most painful supply chain shock of all in the automotive manufacturing world: microprocessor shortages?

“In terms of future-proofing against semiconductor shortages, nothing is going to protect us completely. There is no insurance policy that will give us total availability for all the semiconductors we need.

“That said we have done really well with semi-conductors and were very proactive, early on, as that risk emerged. Securing those commodities gave us the breathing space that others perhaps have struggled with.”

Naughton continues: “Moving forward and thinking about a wider scale of the supply chain, we can better protect ourselves by having early information around these risks, 35


McLaren was founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand-born racing driver

36 June 2023

which are sometimes in the third or fourth tier of the supply chain.

“So building supply chain maps and then ingesting data using technology is a way to become more resilient, so we can deal with those shocks when they occur.”

It is this climate of uncertainty that prompted McLaren to embark upon the digital transformation of its supply chain and logistics operation.

“If you stand still, you’re actually moving backwards,” Naughton says of the digitalisation programme. “Logistics and supply chain are a core part of our business. We design products, we manufacture the vehicles, but we can’t do that without our supply chain partners.”

Naughton adds that McLaren Automotive handbuilds state-of-the-art super cars in a state-of-the-art facility and is constantly looking to innovate. “The same applies for our manufacturing and Logistics operations,” he adds. “I want that same performance. Agile, communicative, and responsive.”

This is why McLaren is investing heavily in improving its supply chain ecosystem.

“Our suppliers are partners in our business and we need their support to be successful. If we don’t invest in that then we’re being negligent,” Naughton says. “Our supply chain is a key enabler for our business. It’s integral to the way that we do business.”

The strategy on digitalisation “comes down to three Cs”, Naughton says.

“It needs to be connected, collaborative and ultimately needs to be cognitive.”

He adds: “It’s about having data that we can use to make decisions much earlier than we do today. This is how we derive resilience, how we optimise and how we discover efficiencies. We need technology to do this, and we’re on that journey.”

Operationally, Naughton says the benefits of digitalisation derive from breaking down 37 MCLAREN

barriers and silos that “traditionally exist within organisations”.

Such barriers also exist within the supply chain network, Naughton points out, adding that technology can create opportunities for all partners in that ecosystem. “Collaboration and data sharing is quite simple if we adopt Cloud, for example,” he says, adding: “Our inbound operations will hugely benefit from digitalisation and technology, but then that flows into the manufacturing ecosystem, of which I’m part. Similarly, there is also a strong drive for transformation within the manufacturing team and we need to ensure we are synergising.”

Ultimately, he says, the goal of the programme is to transform the business “so our customers get a better quality product and a more reliable service”.

He adds: “At the end of the day, any transformation programme must keep the customer in mind, which is why we’re deeply connected to our customers and how they view our products, as well as how they view the service. Ultimately, we want to be faster, more effective and more trusted, so that we can better deliver on what customers expect.”

Capgemini collaboration is feather in McLaren's cap

Helping McLaren drive the change programme in the right direction is Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation.

“Capgemini has been an important partner for us,” says Naughton. “They’ve brought in thought leadership and have shared industry best practices.”

And not just from the automotive clients with whom Capgemini works, says Naughton “but from other industry sectors”, which he says has been invaluable “because we need

to learn how other sectors are approaching similar and different problems”.

“Capgemini has been important in helping us to understand the art of the possible and to identify those opportunities where technology can help McLaren on its journey.

Naughton admits that there is still much to come “because the company’s logistics transformation is quite embryonic in terms of crystallising what the future looks like”.

He adds that the next phase “will be to begin looking at the specific opportunities and capabilities Capgemini has helped us identify”.

He continues: “We need to consider what’s right for McLaren. We are unique in certain aspects, but we need to adopt standardisation where it makes sense. I am fortunate to have a strong team around me to make the right choices about our future logistics operations. As I said before, it’s about the people. Moving forward, its about understanding the choices we face, and

38 June 2023 MCLAREN

then making decisions based on those options. We’re not quite there yet, but in the coming months we’ll begin making decisions around the processes and technology, then implement what we see as the biggest opportunities.

“Some of those changes will come from our internal team members and some will come from our partners. We have a really strong team here who have already

developed digital capabilities so we will continue to leverage our skills, but there will be things we need support with.”

Sooner rather than later, Naughton hopes – in keeping with the fast pace of life so fitting for a supercar manufacturer.

“I like to operate at pace,” he says. “It’s in my DNA and also in McLaren’s, who like to do the right thing, quickly.”

So that’s the near-term. But what about the longer-term future for McLaren? How does Naughton see this shaping up?

“We will move towards being an insightdriven organisation. Network data is key for this to occur. Through collection of such data, this will enable us to become far more resilient. “The need for sustainability cannot be ignored. The majority of Scope 3 emissions

“We derive resilience from having data we can use to make decisions much earlier than we do today” 39

come from the supply base, so we have a responsibility to improve how we operate our business. This will be our future.”

From fast cars to fast manufacturing, there's a need for speed in the future

Naughton feels that recent changes at the top of the company will shape McLaren’s performance in the next 12 to 18 months.

Michael Leiters joined as CEO of McLaren Automotive in July 2022.

German-born Leiters has held senior positions at Porsche AG, eventually becoming a Product Line Director there. More recently, he was Chief Technology Officer at Ferrari. So he is certainly someone who knows all about fast-moving manufacturing environments.

“I think we’ve got an exciting future, particularly with Michael Leiters joining the organisation,” says Naughton, adding that “there’s also lots of other positive changes”.

Among which, he says, is “a shift-change in the way we approach things, from design through to delivery of product”.

He adds: “It’s one of the reasons I took the opportunity to join McLaren. I’m passionate about driving change and am lucky enough to have a leadership team that supports the need to transform. “It’s an exciting time to be in operations and supply chain logistics in the automotive business. I believe our future is really bright.”

40 June 2023 41


How supplier relations platform Suppeco helped BAE Systems Applied Intelligence to tap into valuable relationship data to enrich & strengthen its operations

42 June 2023 43 SUPPECO SPECIAL
“Suppeco appeared on our radar when we were seeking to drive greater value from procurement and supply chain”
44 May 2023

uppeco is a collaborative relationship platform that leverages operational relationship data to solve key challenges facing the customersupplier ecosystem.

Central to what Suppeco does is collaborative Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), an approach that is helping deliver notable results for one of its clients, BAE Systems, the UK-based multinational defence, security and aerospace company and Europe’s largest defence contractor.

Suppeco works closely with BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence, its cyber defence, research, and technology arm.

Applied Intelligence provides a range of services to BAE Systems businesses, third-party companies, and government departments, including R&D, consultancy, specialist manufacturing and technical services.

Its expertise also helps the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Department of Defence, the European Defence Agency, and universities to achieve their goals.

For many years, Applied Intelligence has focused heavily on economic crime, fraud, and the growing threats of cyberattacks.

Simon King, Head of Supplier Management and Operations at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, says the 45 SUPPECO SPECIAL

Unlock hidden value in your supply chain

An award-winning collaborative supplier relationship platform

Suppeco leverages the potential in relationships to solve key challenges within the value chain

A practical solution built for the real world


company realised that, for it to continue delivering its ‘value’ targets, “we would need to innovate together with our suppliers”.

He added that Suppeco “landed on our radar at a time when we were seeking to drive greater value from procurement and supply chain”.

King says BAE wanted to move away from “arms-length relationships” and rebuild its SRM capability “to encourage more transparency and openness”.

To this end, Suppeco worked with BAE to create the Applied Intelligence Collaborative SRM Initiative, built on Suppeco’s Cloud-based platform, which has been available to BAE since early 2020. Initially the project involved four live pilots and 20 BAE Systems suppliers.

Prior to Suppeco, Applied Intelligence used Excel-based collateral for KPI supplier performance management.

“I wanted to get away from managing relationships through spreadsheets and the huge time investment required to create

Simon King




King is “a results-driven, experienced procurement professional” with 25 years’ experience of supplier and contract management. He also has 15 years’ experience of category management and strategy, as well as drafting commercial contracts across a range of market sectors.


Sheldon Mydat




Mydat is an expert in supplier relationship management. Prior to founding Suppeco, he led successful supplier transformation programmes for high-profile organisations such as The Metropolitan Police, Royal Mail Group, and Lloyds Banking Group.

slide decks for periodic governance,” says King.

He adds: “Suppeco demonstrates our commitment to collaborative and transparent relationships with our most important suppliers.”

King says the platform also “requires zero customisation and places no limits on user numbers”.

He also explains that its supplier management information structure follows the principle that every supplier engagement – regardless of what’s being bought or sold – can be split across four main pillars of engagement: Relationship, Commercial, Projects and Service.

“This is what makes the Suppeco environment so effective,” he says. “It brings structure and visibility to aspects of our supplier relationships that were previously intangible.”

Our suppliers also have “extensive access” to the platform, which King says is crucial.

“Suppeco’s rich dashboards give direct visibility of how actively our most important relationships are being managed, and what our challenges and successes are within each one,” he says.

King adds: “the fact that our suppliers are able to see how we operate and that we’re open to criticism drives an immediate stepchange in supplier behaviour.

“They can see that we aren’t just managing their performance on Suppeco, we’re also monitoring our own,” he says. “This has helped in securing supplier engagement and buy-in.”

King explains that in the past, supplier meetings would be monthly or quarterly and that all the information was “historic”.

“It would be compiled by one party or the other,” he says, “so we’d be effectively meeting to talk about what had already happened.”

Now, he says, the company is running performance reviews directly from the

Suppeco platform, and “remotely sharing up-to-date screens, and real-time live data”.

King adds: “Ultimately business is about driving value, increasing profit, and reducing cost. Suppeco is helping us see how all those things are infinitely more achievable by unlocking our supplier relationships.”

Suppeco’s Mydat says that, as with most large organisations that work with multiple suppliers and various levels of complexity, BAE’s applied intelligence “was traditionally focused on driving category spend within their procurement function”.

Suppeco Intro WATCH NOW
“Focusing on cost efficiency ignores the strategic value of supplier relationships”

He states that this fails to leverage the strategic value within supplier relationships, because focusing on cost efficiency and contract performance “puts the emphasis on the numbers and the contracts”.

“This tactical approach leverages a crucial but finite opportunity to drive value. By contrast, the relationship space contains an infinite array of opportunities to collaborate, to create value, promote transparency, innovation, agility and, crucially, to promote growth across the ecosystem and supply chain.”

Mydat explains that the pandemic was “a wake-up call” and has resulted in a “direction of travel” for supply chain technology, towards “more resilient relationship engagement”.

“This is the foundation of Suppeco,” he surmises. “So I was delighted that Simon and his team agreed to trial, and then licence, Suppeco at the beginning of 2021.”

About Suppeco

Supecco was founded in 2017 by Sheldon Mydat, an expert in the field of supplier relationship management (SRM). Prior to founding the company, he led successful supplier transformation programmes for highprofile organisations such as The Metropolitan Police, Royal Mail Group, and Lloyds Banking Group.

In February 2023, Suppeco earned ‘Innovator’ status from International Data Corporation, the global market intelligence firm – earning the accolade for its data-driven live insights that deliver “actionable visibility deep into the supply chain”.

relationships through spreadsheets”
wanted to get away from managing
52 June 2023


Kevin Nelson, Chief Procurement Officer at BD, on

Kevin Nelson is the Chief Procurement Officer at BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a medical technology company based in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. His responsibilities include overseeing all third-party spend, including direct and indirect.

“I’ve been in the procurement profession for a number of years, starting my career in the high-tech industry and evolving into roles within the biotechnology arena before leading strategic sourcing at C. R. Bard, a medical device company that BD acquired about six years ago,” he says.

BD is one of the world’s largest medical technology companies. Its purpose is ‘advancing the world of health’ by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care.

“Roughly 90% of patients coming into a clinical setting in the United States are going to use a BD product,” says Nelson.

Products vary from well-known medical devices such as needles, syringes and blood collection tubes to sophisticated electromechanical devices, diagnostic instruments and reagents.

Mitigating supply chain disruptions

COVID-19 changed the world forever –hybrid working is the new normal, face masks are as common as earrings and you never leave your house without your keys,

how his team mitigates supply chain risks and delivers innovative solutions in an ethical way

A Modern Procurement Platform for Today’s Business

Gainfront’s AI driven technology platform is designed to increase procurement efficiency while solving the unique procurement process challenges that arise from today’s remote and hybrid work environments and increased focus on corporate social responsibility around supplier diversity, ethical compliance, and reducing green house gas emissions

Diversity, ESG & Automation: Gainfront’s modular procurement power

Gainfront’s highly customisable, modular, procure-to-pay powerhouse platform for Diversity, ESG, and collaboration

Gainfront is a platform that meets the procurement needs of today’s business landscape, focusing on mandates related to diversity, supplier diversity, workforce diversity, as well as ESG tracking. Led by Hetal Mehta, CEO of Gainfront, the company provides organisations with an innovative way to achieve compliance to preferred buying while offering powerful workflow automation, which is essential in today’s hybrid work environment.

Diversity, ESG, and Workflow Automation Enabled

Gainfront enables customers to easily configure their workflows, whether in sourcing, finance, or HR, granting them full control over the process through team collaboration and audit trails. As a complete Procure-to-Pay platform, Gainfront fully embraces diversity, ESG, and workflow automation requirements, providing a comprehensive solution for procurement professionals.

The Supplier Discovery Database

Gainfront recognises the pressing need for finding new, diverse, and environmentally conscious suppliers on a global scale. With current supply chain challenges, customers often struggle to identify and source from new suppliers. Gainfront addresses this issue by offering their customers access to a strong and robust global Discovery database. Mehta highlights the importance of this database, stating that it resolves the problem of customers being unable to replace suppliers due to a lack of viable alternatives.

RFX Concierge Service

In the context of today’s hybrid work environment, there is a growing need to find qualified suppliers while managing risk profiles. Gainfront introduces the RFX Concierge service, which allows customers to source suppliers easily by providing preliminary criteria. By leveraging this service, Gainfront identifies qualified suppliers and connects them, significantly reducing customers’ search time by almost 60%.

Enhanced Collaboration

“Gainfront recognises the importance of collaboration in today’s hybrid work environment,” says Mehta. “The company’s horizontal approach to workflow automation provides customers with team collaboration capabilities, allowing for efficient communication and tracking of audit trails. By gathering all decision-making processes in a team-collaboration environment, individuals are held accountable, mitigating the risk of miscommunication or lost information.”

Gainfront’s Partnership with Becton Dickinson (BD) Becton Dickinson (BD) has been a customer of Gainfront for the past three years. Mehta and her team have been instrumental in helping BD manage supplier diversity, spend management, and tracking, thereby assisting them in achieving their BDR goals. Through Gainfront’s database, BD gains access to new suppliers, enabling them to meet their sourcing and diversity goals successfully.

wallet, phone and hand sanitiser. The postpandemic planet changed the procurement process too, especially for those dealing with medical equipment.

“The world has changed and our supply chains need to adapt,” said Nelson. “When we look at the environment, or the world around us right now, we are continuing to see more disruptions every year. We’ve been tracking this, not only within BD, but also within the healthcare and the life sciences industry.”

More frequent disruptions in the supply chain are happening year over year, which include plant shutdowns, supplier shutdowns, supplier insolvency, port strikes, geopolitical tensions and more.

“BD has taken this ‘moment’ to lead a ‘movement’ to create the supply chain of the future, and that all starts with enhanced procurement visibility and agility”






Kevin Nelson has served as BD’s SVP and Chief Procurement Officer for the past five years focused on applying advanced Procurement strategies to help BD navigate supply chain disruptions and inflationary challenges during the pandemic. Kevin created BD’s Responsible Sourcing Program which strives to develop an ethical, agile supply chain capable of sustaining external pressures.

Prior to B, Kevin was VP of Global Strategic Sourcing C.R. Bard where he introduced an advanced sourcing methodology that delivered solid yearover-year savings as well as additional value through innovative supplier relationship management, revenue generation, reduced backorder and a supplier risk management program.

“All these things result in some sort of disruption to the supply chain,” says Nelson. “We have continued to see that and experience it. That has led us to asking, what do we need to do differently? Because we’re probably not going to get back to this ‘normal’ that everyone’s been waiting for. BD has taken this ‘moment’ to lead a ‘movement’ to create the supply chain of the future, and that all starts with enhanced supply chain visibility and agility.”

This “movement” at BD has resulted in multiple initiatives to evolve procurement strategies to be more resilient, agile and socially responsible.


Kevin received his B.A. from the University of North Dakota and MBA from Boston University. Kevin is a member of the Healthcare Transparency Institute, Strategic Marketplace Initiative, National Minority Supplier Development Committee, Institute for Supply Management and sits on multiple advisory boards in the medical device industry.

Enhanced visibility via AI & ML

“To start building our supply chain of the future, we mapped our product lines to identify which ones are considered critical to healthcare,” Nelson explains. “These are products that the healthcare industry has

deemed essential to care for the patients, and if they aren’t on the market, there’ll be a problem around meeting basic or routine healthcare needs.”

BD identified over a hundred different product lines that are critical to healthcare. Nelson and his team conducted an assessment on every product line, looking at every item in the bills of materials and ensured remediation is in place for the critical high-risk materials.

“A product line may have a few items in the bill of materials, or it may have a few hundred items. We do an assessment on every item in that bill of materials and on every supplier, to see where potential risks are.”

BD creates a composite score that allows them to plot product lines to see which ones are in a high-risk quadrant.

“We’re looking at how we can help a community where our customers are living”
BD: Ensuring a resilient, responsible and agile supply chain

“We can take that back to our business units and work with them to create mitigation plans to dual source, adjust inventory levels, and/or regionally source some of the material or components.”


As part of the work to de-risk high-priority products, BD uses discovery technology that employs AI and machine learning ML to map subtier supply chains for critical products and leveraged that visibility to uncover hidden risks in its suppliers’ extended supply chains.

“During COVID-19, 80% of BD’s supply chain disruptions didn’t come from our direct suppliers,” Nelson adds. “They came from our suppliers’ suppliers or even three or four levels down the chain. Unless you have mapped your entire supply chain and employ

very sophisticated technology, it is very hard to know how a disruption at a third or fourth-tier supplier will impact your product.”

An example of the payoff of this work was a recent paper strike in Finland. Because BD mapped the supply chain, the procurement team knew that pulp from Finland was used in medical grade labels the company uses and that there were very few alternate suppliers. BD received early warning signals from the risk intelligence partner along with the visibility to understand the issue early on, work with its partners to find alternate sources and secure inventory of labels well in advance of other companies or industries that would be vying for the same label stock. 63
Roughly 90% of patients coming into a clinical setting in the United States are going to use a BD product

Fuel breakthroughs

The life sciences industry continues to experience unparalleled innovation as investment and talent flow into the sector and breakthrough discoveries happen at a rapid pace.

Named the 2021 BD Sustainability Supplier of the Year, JLL helps life sciences companies create compelling real estate and facilities strategies that improve efficiency, mitigate risk and deliver a sustainable workplace. Lay the groundwork for rapid growth →

Creating a socially & environmentally responsible supply chain BD knows its customers want them to provide high-quality products at a fair price and that they expect more than the basics. Improved resiliency, visibility and agility are adding value, but the company is also focusing on sustainable business practices that are environmentally, ethically and socially responsible.

“At BD, we stay true to our values, including doing what is right. We set up the Responsible Sourcing Program to ensure we embed supplier responsibility and sustainability in every purchasing decision we make,” Nelson explains.

This includes partnering with ethical and diverse suppliers, helping protect human rights and working to ensure environmental stewardship.

“Our customers want to understand the bigger picture, too,” Nelson explains. “Are they buying a product from us that is sourced from an ethical and responsible supplier paying fair wages to its workers?”

BD ensures compliance in these areas through ongoing assessments, desktop and face-to-face audits and close partnerships across its supply base. This is all to ensure that suppliers understand exactly what BD

“Unless you have mapped your entire supply chain and employ very sophisticated technology, it is very hard to know how a disruption at a fifth-level supplier will impact your product” 65 BECTON DICKINSON
66 June 2023

expects when doing business with them, while also making sure risks are anticipated and managed effectively.

Like most companies, Nelson and his team have certainly found some areas of concern in their network that need to improve.

“Instead of moving away from that supplier and letting it be someone else’s problem, we’ve tried to see how we can work with them to identify an area they need to improve in. If they’re able to, that’s great. If not, then we’d have to move away. So far, we’ve been successful in mitigating issues. We’re working to help improve human rights around the world while ensuring important medical products get to those who need them.”

Another focus area of BD’s Responsible Sourcing Program is supplier sustainability. This examines where suppliers are driving reductions in greenhouse gases, diverting waste away from landfills and understanding how much renewable energy they use. The Responsible Sourcing team is also working internally with product stewardship and category management to develop and implement strategies to eliminate materials of concern where possible.

“The partnership is that three-legged stool: our customer, our internal stakeholders and our suppliers” 67 BECTON DICKINSON

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sustainable sterilisation technologies, and addressing materials of concern (MOC).

The third area of focus of the Responsible Sourcing Program is supplier diversity, which has gained a lot of momentum in the US.

“We pivoted our supplier diversity focus from one that historically assessed our spend with small businesses and diverse suppliers, which was more of a reactive approach. Today, we are looking at economic impact in terms of how we’re helping different regions and local economies by using diverse and small businesses that are truly making an impact. We’re looking at how we can help a community where our customers are living,” explains Nelson.

“The Supplier Sustainability pillar includes working alongside our R&D team and business units to identify products, materials and components that are ‘greener’ in nature while also making products that are more effective, efficient and economical,” Nelson explains. “This might be a packaging component that uses less energy to make or is recyclable.”

In 2022, BD launched the Sustainable Medical Technology Institute, a model of practice within the organisation that brings together BD researchers and engineers, as well as quality, regulatory, policy, sourcing and operational expertise, to focus on reducing the environmental impact of the company’s product portfolio in three areas: adopting sustainable product design strategies, developing and deploying

Finally, there’s end-to-end transparency, which is connecting back to the customer and providing enhanced visibility to them. “The key is providing this information proactively and transparently to the customers, to the patients, before it’s a problem, so they have the ability to do something in advance.”

Medical manufacturing partnerships & resilient supply chains

As with any medical manufacturer, BD’s partner ecosystem is vast.

“Partnering with our customers upfront is a key priority for BD. We aim to identify the customer requirements and expectations and build those into our long term strategies and initiatives,” he explains.

From day one, BD’s style has been to collaborate and work with its partners, which was essential during the pandemic.

“We came in working together, wanting to figure out a solution with our supplier partners, as opposed to demanding, ‘Shift this or I’m going to move away from you’.

“Instead of moving away from that supplier, we’ve tried to see how we can work with them to identify how they can improve” 69 BECTON DICKINSON
70 June 2023

“The partnership is a three-legged stool: our customer, our suppliers and our internal stakeholders that includes business units, Quality and Regulatory, among others.”

This work is further strengthened through strategic collaboration and public-private partnerships with government agencies, including the FDA, HHS, POTUS/White House – and industry collaboratives like Advamed – to address supply chain and sourcing issues that plague the broader healthcare industry.

Being able to incorporate those areas into BD’s strategy has allowed what Nelson sees as a resilient end-to-end supply chain.

The momentum of BD’s procurement supply chain team has been exciting for Nelson and his team.

“We’ve experienced very little turnover in our function, and I think a big reason for that is that people see the movement we are driving and understand we have become extremely vital to BD, our customers and the patients they serve. We are on the frontlines; we are helping shape strategy as we go forward here.”

Nelson views this as an entirely different kind of mindset and even acumen, from a team perspective.

“I think it’s been refreshing for the team to pivot away from historical firefighting or cost-reduction to facing the bigger opportunity we’re trying to address.”

“We have more engineers on the team now doing more,” says Nelson. “Our engineers look at an existing product line and see what we can do to redesign elements that can meet the needs of our customer and patients, reduce our overall risk exposure and benefit BD as well.” 71 BECTON DICKINSON

Wearable digital devices are among the tech developments helping businesses speed delivery and manage customer expectation

72 June 2023


Supply chain digitisation means that businesses are having to rethink what customers really value, says Venky Arun of Kearney


Every part of the supply chain will benefit from digitalisation including quality control

74 June 2023

Sometimes, progress requires out-of-the-box thinking – the ability to seek inspiration from unusual quarters.

A pizza delivery service and the banking sector might seem unlikely use cases to help a business digitally transform its supply chain, yet, interestingly, bestpractice deployment of tech is often transferable from sector to sector.

So much is changing, and so fast, in supply chain that lessons have to be learned wherever one can find them. Predigitalisation supply chains were typically designed to balance costs. In terms of performance, the goal was to give customers similar service levels, with a bias towards the needs of the largest customers.

But technology means businesses now have increased access to data across the supply chain, and with increased data comes better insight, which allows them to provide a bespoke service to customers. In short, supply chain digitisation requires that businesses rethink what customers really value.

Digitalisation helps segment markets

Venky Arun, Partner of Strategic Operations with Kearney, is an expert in this field. He says digitisation “enables companies to further segment its customers across channels and provide customisation on what they truly value”.

Not just this, but he also says technology allows organisations to adjust evolving priorities – such as real-time visibility, customised promotions and growing demands – for sustainable supply chains.

Venky says: “In terms of real-time visibility, customers want to know about status and updates throughout the order to delivery process. The more transparent your supply chain is, the more your company can meet the wants, needs, and expectations of customers.”

He gives as an example the pizza giant, Domino’s, who pioneered real-time order tracking in 2008 when it introduced a feature that let customers know when their pizza order was received, when the pizza was in the oven, and when the order was en route.

“This concept has extended across business-to-business (B2B) and businessto-consumer (B2C) segments in the supply chain,” says Venky.

As well as causing businesses to shift the focus of supply chain away from costsavings and on to customer needs, digital transformation is also changing the nature of supply chain roles – particularly through automation. Businesses are increasingly

“Most firms are working on the what, where and how of digitising their supply chain” 75 SUPPLY CHAIN

having to strike a balance between automation and human expertise, says Venky, who cites collaborative warehouse robots – ‘cobots’ – as an example.

“These are used in areas where humans are also working, and, together, they complete tasks such as sorting, carton loading, case packing, and tray placement.”

Here, he references Unilever’s production plant in Katowice, Poland, which uses cobots “to speed up the palletising process, to optimise work ergonomics and to relieve employees from strenuous tasks”. Another nuanced automation use case that he mentions is the balance between AI-driven chatbots and human feedback.

“Answers to basic questions, such as returns policies for a retailer, can be handled through a chatbot,” he says, “but enquiries that require empathy and personalisation need to be delivered by humans.”

In light of this, Venky suggests Supply chain managers would do well to study the banking sector, which has deployed bestpractice automated customer support.

“For bank relationship-managers, the automation of manual tasks has enabled a more efficient way of working, so they can refocus their time on higher-value engagements that help deepen relationships with their clients.”

“AL and ML help optimise routes, reduce fuel consumption and reduce waste”
Cobots, such as this automated picker, are helping warehouses bypass labour shortages

So which organisations does Venky feel are best-practice leaders in supply chain digitisation?

He begins with a rider, saying that digitisation of supply chains “is still in its early stage” and that most companies “are working on improving the what, where, and how they digitise their supply chain”.

PepsiCo ‘digitally mature’

He adds: “There is no one leader in digitisation, but we do see companies that have more mature digital capabilities.”

Such as PepsiCo, which Venky says is using one of its biggest brands – Frito-Lay – to launch new Industry 4.0 initiatives.

“Its Frito-Lay manufacturing plant uses lasers to hit chips and then listen to the sounds coming off the chip to determine

Venky Arun




Arun has been with Kearney for over 10 years. He was previously Vice President and Associate Partner. He was previously an Associate Engineer with Accenture.

texture. Algorithms process the sound and determine the chip texture to automate the quality check for Frito-Lay’s chip processing systems.”

Another example is UPS, which is using an AI-powered GPS tool called ORION (On-road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation) to create the most efficient routes for its fleet.

“Customers, drivers, and vehicles submit data to the machine, which then uses algorithms to create the most optimal routes,” he explains. “Instead of backtracking or getting stuck in traffic, ORION helps drivers make their deliveries on time and in the most efficient manner. The routes can even be changed on-the-go, depending on road conditions and other factors.

Asked what his advice to businesses would be if they could afford to digitalise just one aspect of their supply chain, he returns to the subject of customer-led decision making.

“The customer is at the core of any supply chain. Availability of the right product at the right time is becoming more and more important and that’s an area where digitisation can enable businesses to make more-accurate inventory decisions.

“Digitisation and advanced analytics can help predict consumer habits and forecast seasonal demand to minimise the costs of overstocking excess inventory. When applied to demand forecasting, AL and ML principles create highly accurate predictions of future demand.”

Here, he gives the example of US retail giant Walmart, which is using AI- and ML-based predictions to balance its network “and is placing inventory in the right location, at the right time”.


Frito-Lay uses lasers to gauge texture and determine quality

UPS uses an AI-powered GPS tool to create the most efficient routes for its fleet 79

McKinsey 5-point formula for digitalisation success

An ongoing McKinsey study into skills requirements shows that companies need inhouse digital supply chain talent to support digitisation efforts.

And to help organisations in their quest to plug the skills gap, McKinsey has published a five-point “capability building formula” based on action taken by businesses who have successfully upskilled their supply chain people. The five points are:


Focus on the skills that matter –something that is often hindered by a lack of understanding of what ‘good’ looks like, says McKinsey.


Incentivise participation and engagement


Set up the program to scale beyond the initial pilot

Diversify Impact

Use diverse and effective learning methods

Drive for impact on the company’s operating performance


He explains: “Shoppers pack their physical or digital shopping carts. Walmart uses AI to enhance daily supply chain workflows, helping anticipate cycles in demand, especially amid peak or unexpected events in customer traffic.”

Tech is sustainability boon

Staying on the theme of advanced analytics and AI, Venky says such tech is helping in another hugely important area: sustainability.

“AL and ML can help optimise routes, reduce fuel consumption, improve inventory management and reduce overall waste,” he says. “Advanced analytics is also helping companies improve efficiency, as well as enhancing their reputation by allowing them to play a bigger role in preserving the environment.

“For example, since 2015, Amazon has reduced the weight of its outbound packaging by 33%, eliminating 915,000 tonnes of packaging material.

“Once a customer orders a product, an ML solution powered by Amazon SageMaker identifies the type of packaging needed – whether this is paper bags, padded paper mailer – as opposed to defaulting to predefined boxes.”

What does it take to transform to a digital supply chain?
“The customer is at the core of any supply chain” 81

Microsoft empowering manufacturing firms to accelerate supply chain innovation

82 June 2023 83

Helping to spearhead digital transformation programs across the process industry is no small feat, but Microsoft’s industry executive Yury Gomez is the perfect fit for the job.

Gomez – Global Chief Commercial Leader for Process Industries – has a supply chain background, which means that not only is she battle-hardened, but she also has a real-world understanding of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to manufacturing operations.

She has also been tempered by the seismic experience of COVID-19: “Supply chains have always existed. It’s always been the job of demand planners, forecasters, financial planners, and supply chain leaders to make sure products are at hand, and to take care of inventory control, product delivery, and customer satisfaction. But then COVID19 came along and, overnight, none of this worked any more. That was challenging, and I was thrilled to be on my mission to help customers overcome that challenge.”

Gomez began her Microsoft career as Global Executive Director for Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Manufacturing and Supply Chain Digital Transformation, and had the opportunity to accelerate digital transformations during COVID-19 – a time, she says, “when customers looked to technology companies to help them overcome their supply chain challenges”.

84 June 2023 MICROSOFT
Yury Gomez – Microsoft’s Process Industries lead – explains why the company’s tech ecosystem is driving change 85
Tubeforging plant frontline workers using Microsoft products to support supply chain operations

Now, she leads digital transformation for all process industries – including the chemicals industry, specialty chemicals, pulp and paper, steel, pharmaceuticals, and the consumer packaged goods space.

Gomez admits that, although most people know Microsoft as the company that created Windows and Xbox, for the past three years, “it has been doing a phenomenal job impacting industry digital transformation”.

Cloud helping Microsoft pioneer transformation projects

“With the advance of cloud computing and technology, we've had the opportunity to

86 June 2023
“With advances in cloud computing and technology, we’ve been able to impact how industries think about the digital transformation journey”

impact how industries think about their digital transformation journey,” she adds.

The industry solutions and partner sales organisation of Microsoft is organised by industries. “In manufacturing there are two main kinds of companies: Discrete and Process,” explains Gomez. “For Discrete, you can think of aerospace, for example, but there is also process manufacturing, like chemical companies.”

Her role is to “elevate” customer journeys by “helping them envision how digital transformation can help them accelerate efficiency, increase return on investment, and transform the way they work”.





Yury is the Global Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer

for the Process Manufacturing Industry division at Microsoft. She leads the GTM strategy and sales execution for process industries including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, CPG and others. In her role, she drives end-to-end digital transformation for Fortune 100 companies and many more working with engineering, sales, and partner teams.

Yury has over two decades of industry experience. Prior to joining Microsoft, she worked for Johnson & Johnson, Solvay, and various startups where she had multiple leadership roles leading innovation, manufacturing, E2E supply chain, commercial operations, and 87 MICROSOFT

The Triple-Double for Logistics . . .

How aThingz and Microsoft are Co-Piloting Global Logistics Transformation.

Supply chain digital twins must continue to evolve in order to drive optimal business outcomes. aThingz and Microsoft are delivering rapid transformation within global logistics organisations by fusing the informational (data), physical, and financial supply chains (the triple threat), and converging planning with execution (the double threat).

This new “Triple-Double” approach helps companies make faster, cost-optimised decisions that solve the most stubborn global logistics problem statements.

Learn more

Autonomous Supply Chain.

aThingz is a unicorn supply chain and logistics solution provider enabling organisations to rapidly take cost out of their logistics spend while helping them be more agile and resilient. Customers reap accelerated value by week 6 with aThingz.

aThingz’s founders are Vijaya Neela, President & CEO and Kannan Ramachandran, Chief AI and Commercial Officer.

Vijaya establishes the supply chain transformation roadmap for customers and leads solution development and delivery engagements. Kannan is focused on aThingz’s AI strategy, managing customer relationships, and leading revenue growth initiatives.

“We are building solutions with an AI component that is a competitive differentiator for our customers. The speed and accuracy of business decisions rely on quality data. Our AI-powered purposebuilt data management solution for Supply Chain and Logistics can identify data anomalies, apply pattern

recognition techniques to standardize, cleanse, and improve the quality of data.”

Logistics management

Vijaya sets the vision for aThingz’s unique approach to global logistics management within the supply chain.

“We establish a customer digital twin model that overlays the physical, financial, and informational supply chain, and analyse historical planning and ongoing execution data to continuously calibrate the effectiveness of the plan. Planning and execution should not be considered two separate entities but should be a closed-loop process for optimal cost savings, efficiencies, and contextual insights.”

aThingz’s partnership with Microsoft

“We’ve been a strategic Microsoft partner for over five years,” says Kannan. “Our solution has been built ground up on their Azure stack using composable microservices. We leverage 100% of what Azure has to offer.”

“We will be co-piloting with Microsoft well into the future” says Kannan. “Our solutions use conversational AI, machine learning, deep learning, intelligent solvers, advanced heuristics, hyper automations, workflows, and alerts. Microsoft’s Azure stack has made it possible for us to drive accelerated innovation and business value for our customers.”

Gomez works with executives at C-Suite level to “better understand their business problems, how they are organised, and their operating models”. She then shares with them what Microsoft is doing in the wider world for other industries and customers.

She says: “I then go deeper into how Microsoft – with our cloud computing technology, our business applications and infrastructure – can help them transform.”

Crucially, she says, it is people who are always at the centre of my conversation with customers because “people are the lifeblood of how companies manufacture, operate and deliver products”. This approach informs Microsoft about the broader culture at the client, and the right journey and roadmap to help customers with a holistic approach to improve their operating processes and impact their workforce to work in new ways.

WATCH NOW 90 June 2023
Microsoft empowering manufacturing firms to accelerate supply chain innovation

“We help transform everything – people, processes, data, and systems,” she explains, “so that these converge into a new journey that will transform how companies can do more with less, and in a more advanced way.”

Visibility is among the main supply chain challenges

So, what are the top supply chain challenges that her customers are facing today?

“The list is enormous,” she says, “but one thing we find most often is that customers need visibility.” This goes back to the effects of the pandemic. The main challenge is endto-end visibility in the value chain ecosystem.

“So visibility to multi-tier suppliers – not only tier one, but also tiers two and three. Also, visibility on customer data, how quickly inventory is turning over, and how the production systems are looking.”

This need for visibility has, according to Gomez, been heightened not only by the pandemic but also the knowledge that “market dynamics can impact supply at any time”.

“Take the Suez Canal blockage, or the Ukrainian war – the latter of which is causing a significant energy crisis impacting how companies operate and the manufacturing volumes they can sustain to maximise energy use.”

Despite difficulties, Gomez feels that, although the world is slowly returning to prepandemic just-in-time inventory models, today’s businesses want advanced digital tools to manage supply chain uncertainties.

Digital cloud-native technologies such as AI, analytics, blockchain, and IoT are helping customers build resilience and more visibility. Hence why end-to-end supply chain ecosystem visibility has become supremely important, she says “to improve production, planning, logistics, and cost efficiencies”. 91 MICROSOFT

Another challenge is how organisations can secure their supply chain “all the way to customers”, which she says makes logistics visibility and optimisation vitally important if companies are to achieve operational and financial goals.

Supply problems are in a constant state of flux Gomez and her colleagues at Microsoft seek to bring order to a disordered world, but she concedes that the challenges shape-shift from month to month, and that technology

also needs to change fast also to meet the needs of the evolving industry market.

“The pandemic is largely over but we’re continuing to see labour shortages that are impacting manufacturing industries, and manufacturing is a big piece of enabling the supply chain,” she says.

“People are also retiring younger, and there’s a lack of skilled people who know and understand digital technologies. Businesses have to operate faster to have competitive advantage, so all this is a challenge that’s added into the existing complexity.”

92 June 2023 MICROSOFT

Gomez also references the rampant inflation occurring around the globe: “This is putting a lot of pressure on companies to digitise even faster to reduce their operating costs.

“So, a customer that has already started on the digital transformation journey and is getting close to a higher maturity stage – and that has visibility around suppliers, customers, and manufacturing production – is suddenly hit by spiralling inflation. It can sometimes feel like it’s difficult to keep up, especially if you are trying to do this on your own.”

She adds: “Taxes are also rising, and debt is increasing, and companies need to pass this down to consumers or customers. But to what degree? How far can they go before customers seek out a competitor, whose prices are lower?”

These are the kind of fluctuating dynamics that Microsoft is helping businesses tackle, mainly through its cloud solutions.

AI-enabled cloud products mark out Microsoft as unique for industry digitalisation

Its AI-enabled cloud products mark out Microsoft as unique. They demonstrate the company’s commitment to industryspecific standards and communities, such as the Open Manufacturing Platform, the OPC Foundation, and the Digital Twins Consortium.

Coupled with this is its innovative partner ecosystem, featuring composable and extensible solutions that seamlessly connect people, assets, workflows, and business processes.

“Our technology is giving businesses more intelligence and visibility than ever before, while making operations more adaptable,” she says.

Data is, it seems, the key driving force – both in the need for such solutions and the way in which they operate, as Gomez says: “We realise that though companies have a lot of data, it's siloed so they can't make much sense out of it. So we give them the infrastructure and technology they need to unify this data, helping them gain advanced insight into their supply chain to make better decisions.”

Referencing Microsoft’s partner ecosystems, Gomez says the company “leverages partners to help industry”, 93

adding: “Every customer wants to prioritise certain aspects of their supply chain, and we have partners that play very well to all these various needs – whether it’s end-to-end or for specific functions of the supply chain.

“We partner with ecosystem companies to bring the operational efficiency and agility that companies are looking for. Most importantly, we recognise customers’ need to simplify the way they work with vendors while ensuring a secure platform that’s flexible and extensible. We built Microsoft Supply Chain Center because we recognise this security and flexibility is very important.”

Gomez describes Microsoft as “the most trusted, secure cloud provider that provides the infrastructure and connectivity to partner solutions”, adding that the very nature of the platform is to recognise that “no one partner has everything a customer needs and so it provides a platform to enable an ecosystem of solutions”.

Ecosystem helping Microsoft modernise supply chains

This ecosystem is helping Microsoft modernise supply chains, which by nature are complex, and involve many operational steps and activities, whether it’s manufacturing, procurement or logistics.

“There are many partners we work with to address the various challenges in supply chain,” says Gomez, “and we bring them together to light up the digital transformation of the supply chain.”

She adds: “Partners are the lifeblood of how we execute transformation. They have deep knowledge of the industry and know what, exactly, is the right solution. And then we, Microsoft, bring our secure and intelligent infrastructure technology

to enable our partner to deliver a solution that is secure and that leverages the best cloud-based digital capabilities and latest solutions to enable customers to become more agile and resilient.”

Businesses, she says, have discovered that operational and supply chain resilience is the key to their competitive advantage; to help them build this resilience, “I encourage customers to work with us to advance their digital journey”.

“The start point is always what they are doing today,” says Gomez. “What's your current state? What are your top operational problems? What is your digital maturity? Then we bring them the digital solutions and roadmaps to help them orchestrate, so they can better plan and optimise to improve their supply chain visibility, execution and logistics models.”

“Most importantly,” she adds, “we deliver all of this in a secure manner, meaning customers can really embrace digital transformation.”

This is where Gomez’s supply chain experience stands her in good stead.

She says: “Before Microsoft, I was part of industry myself. I was a leader of supply chain, and so I understood that supply chain people often don't know how to get started on digital transformations.

“To build resilience, supply chain leaders have to understand how digital capabilities can enhance each step of the supply chain operational process. It’s about working with partners and getting a dynamic going. I think that’s how companies can start their journey toward building a more resilient supply chain.”

94 June 2023 MICROSOFT


Low pay, stress and a return to office working has left logistics struggling for labour, but technology and training are helping to address the problem

“ gggg”n 97

The pandemic has presented logistics with a conveyor belt of seismic challenges over the past three years. One of the lesser talked about issues has been the shift away from working from home (WFH) and the return of people to the office.

It is no coincidence this has prompted people to seek new jobs and careers in their millions, including across supply chain functions. What doesn’t help is that supply chain roles come with huge stress levels, given the amount of ongoing disruption. Of course, some supply chain jobs, such as driving and warehouse work, cannot be done from home, yet these areas have been even harder hit by labour issues.

Take warehouses. At the lower end of the logistics skills spectrum – warehouse handlers, for example – many see their role as a short-term means to an end. The work is tough, hours are long, and the pay isn‘t

great so, unsurprisingly many workers are moving to industries that offer higher wages or more-appealing work environments.

Adrian Preston, Head of Supply Chain Content at Skill Dynamics – a supply chain and procurement training company – says retention is not just a warehouse issue, but is affecting supply chain roles generally.

“It’s a particular issue among junior professionals,” he says. “Our research shows over a quarter of professionals (27%) intend to leave their current role within two years. This should be a huge cause for concern for organisations, because they’ll be losing people who have amassed critical skills and an understanding of the business.”

Workload key cause of staff churn

Preston adds that other causes of employee churn include increased workload (62%), limited progression opportunities (47%), and lack of respect for the function (34%). On top of this, he says many junior supply chain professionals are ill-equipped for the complexity of their roles: “There’s a high need for structured, on-the-job training due to a lack of formal qualification options. Most say they’d like more training to help them meet job requirements.”

Preston continues: “The data points to a supply chain under stress. Professionals are

“Encouraging people to stay with a pay rise is a shortterm solution”
An estimated 450m people work in global supply chains

having to grapple with strategic problems early in their careers, and added to this they don’t feel like their contribution is being fully recognised, so they leave.

He says that high employee churn increases workloads for those left behind and that this prompts even more people to leave, meaning organisations “find themselves in a perpetual skills-loss cycle”.

So what does Preston think can be done about this? “Recruitment is certainly difficult for supply chain organisations right now,” he says, ‘but retention is perhaps the greater issue. Most supply chain professionals are concerned about the consequences of high employee churn. They say employee retention in their function has decreased over the past three years. This is a huge cause for concern for organisations, as





Skill Dynamics offer digital procurement and supply chain training for corporate teams. “To date, we have rolled out our personalised programmes to 300,000 students in 520 companies,” says Preston.

Adrian Preston
“There’s need for on-the-job training due to a lack of formal qualification options”

Sam Slater





Slater joined Crane Worldwide Logistics in 2015, after 18 years with Eagle Global Logistics, where he rose to Executive VP, Freight Forwarding, for the Americas region..

they’re losing people who have amassed critical skills and an understanding of the business.”

Increasing pay is short-term solution

Preston says organisations can encourage people to stay through increased salaries and other incentives but warns that these tend to be short-term solutions, as they don’t build long-term loyalty: “A far better approach is to address the drivers of churn. These are increased workload and limited career opportunities. Recruitment is an issue, so it’s unlikely organisations will be able to bring in a load of new people, but they can equip existing employees to deal better with the challenges of their roles through training. This also helps demonstrate the organisation cares about its people, and their long-term career progression.”

42% of supply chains plan to invest in robotics for their warehouse processes

Supply chain companies are also turning to technology to not only ease labour shortages but also improve staff retention levels. Sam Slater, senior VP of global operations at Crane Worldwide Logistics, points out that many logistics workers see technology as a means for their employer to compete in a tough market, and that this gives them a sense of security.

“People want to be assured their organisation is positioned to compete,” he says. “They see technology as a key component of that competitiveness. In fleet management, for example, automation has reduced wait times and the matching of loads. The more the wheel turns, the more money people make – and this contributes significantly to staff retention.”

When it comes to automation, Slater believes the key to success is always

Lean on tech ‘to streamline workforces’

Global recession changes how firms must handle supply chain risks, says

“Today’s supply chains are no strangers to disruption,” she says.

“Supply chain performance has a direct impact on business continuity and resilience.

“Companies across industries are also experiencing ongoing supply chain labour shortages stemming from the Great Resignation.

“Organisations are scrambling to hire truck drivers, warehouse operators, and other crucial professionals while working to minimise burnout among current employees.”

Brody advises businesses to “operate with leaner resources”.

“Organise your team around the highest value work, and lean on technology to streamline processes.”


leadership: “The worst thing is to make the process more complex than necessary. This will always be an industry built and run by people. Technology does not replace leadership.”

Slater offers examples of areas in which Crane itself has achieved a synergy between people and tech. He says the company has an automated online learning management system that can be used for personal development plans, as well as a global reporting system that can be accessed by any Crane employee, at any time, from their

smartphone. In terms of the most important skills in today's supply chain marketplace, Adrian Preston says these are supply planning, supply chain analytics and supply chain strategy.

Adaptable people in short supply “Senior supply chain professionals tell us these are the top three skill sets that they’re seeking in new recruits,” says Preston. “Supply chain leaders are looking for people able to navigate an uncertain landscape. They want people able to analyse relevant data to understand where the next supply shock might come from.

“They also want people who are able to adapt and spin-up short-term plans to overcome unforeseen disruptions, as well as longerterm strategies.”

Supply chain salaries continue to rise
(Romania) (Poland) (Germany) (UK) 104 June 2023
“Logistics workers see tech as a means for employers to compete in a tough market and this gives them a sense of security” 105


DHL CEO Frank Appel on why fashion and consumer electronics have the potential to be pioneer sectors in driving circular supply chain models 107 SUSTAINABILITY

Most smartphones are exchanged after just 2-3 years’ use

Statistically, there is more gold in a ton of mobile phone than there is a ton of gold ore

108 June 2023

In a sustainability context, circularity is about extending the useful life of products and then recovering those products at the end of their life cycle.

Supply chain is an integral part of this because it determines how products are designed, produced and distributed, with minimal waste and maximum efficiency.

Supply chain managers – the good ones, anyway – have always sought to minimise waste and energy use, by optimising transportation routes and reducing packaging, because that makes for better bottom-line results.

Now they also have to factor-in the use of renewable energy, and the phasing-out of environmentally unfriendly packaging materials, such as plastics.

By embracing circular supply chain principles, companies can reduce their reliance on finite resources, minimise waste, and reduce their carbon footprint.

Among the most pivotal players –along with manufacturers – in helping deliver circular supply chains are logistics companies.

One of the world’s biggest logistics providers is DHL, the international logistics division of Deutsche Post.

It operates in 220 countries, and in recent years, it has expanded its presence in the e-commerce market. In terms of sustainability, its goal is to achieve zeroemissions logistics by 2050, and it is investing in alternative fuels, electric vehicles, and other green tech. 109 SUSTAINABILITY

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DHL is also vocal on the importance of circular supply chains. It recently published a paper called ‘Delivering on Circularity’, which focuses on the fashion and consumer electronics industries – both cornerstones of the e-commerce boom. In his foreword to the paper, Deutsche Post DHL Group CEO Frank Appel says the signs of climate change and environmental damage “are alarming and increasingly visible”.

He adds that, although a shift to renewable energy is important for curbing climate change, every industry must also “examine what they can do in their specific case”.

Circularity, he writes, is the likeliest source of “complementary strategies that addresses the impact of both emissions and waste”.

Appel feels circularity “holds the promise of saving the environment while driving innovation and growth”.





Appel says: “At DHL we define our purpose as connecting people and improving lives. Our 550,000 logistics specialists do this with pride everyday, as ambassadors of globalisation.”

“Circularity can save the environment while driving innovation and growth”

Refurbishment crucial part of circular supply chain

‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is a common saying when referring to waste reduction during the production cycle, but it could provide a solution to supply chain issues too.

Refurbished or reconditioned parts could replace new components when spare parts are hard to find.

These are not to be confused with repaired or second-hand parts, which refers to components whose refurbishing and testing process cannot be verified.

The use of refurbished parts can reduce lead times for manufacturers, prevent unnecessary downtime and keep machinery up and running just like new.

Refurbished parts also have the added benefit of quality assurance checks and warranties that usually match the equivalent of a new component, both in length and specification.

If manufacturers are to overcome the worst supply issues in nearly 50 years, reconditioned or refurbished parts can go a long way by contributing to the circular economy, maintaining efficiency and shortening lead times.

Appel makes an important point, because in the past sustainability failed to gain significant traction because of cost. But now, the reputational cost of doing nothing far outweighs any financial burden, because stakeholders – particularly consumers and investors – vote with their wallets when it comes to unsustainable brands.

Appel says of this: “Circular business models not only diversify product and service portfolios but positive customer engagement also serves as a brand booster.

“In other words, while circularity makes products more sustainable, solutions that also deliver business benefits

Up to 20% of garments produced are never worn

make circularity sustainable.” Regarding circularity, Appel feels it is consumer goods – particularly fashion and electronics –that “merit a closer look”.

“The presence of these industries in our lives is nearly universal,” he says. “The potential positive impact is huge.”

Appel feels brands in these spaces have “a unique chance to deepen customer relationships in ways that will quite literally help to save the planet”.

He has a point. Taken together, fashion and consumer electronics account for approximately 6% of global carbon emissions, and waste levels are shocking:

up to 20% of garments produced are never worn, while most smartphones are exchanged after just two-to-three years’ use.

DHL feels that “post-sale interventions” will be especially important if circular supply chains are to become the norm – especially around reselling, repairing, refurbishing and recycling.

The company fully expects that, as a result of this, logistics will play a more pronounced role during the extended lifetime of products and raw materials.

As well as this, DHL feels tech-driven visibility will be needed, both to marshall increasingly complex flows of goods in 113 SUSTAINABILITY
Up to 20% of garments produced are never worn

circular supply chains and also to ensure ease of use for consumers.

“These activities are at the core of what we do at DHL,” says Appel. “We would like to lend our expertise to the important undertaking of circularity and play an even bigger role in addressing some of the biggest environmental and social challenges of our time.”

DHL says that transitioning from traditional, linear supply chains toward a closed and circular supply loop will require “close collaboration among players, as system-changing ideas are considered and new policy frameworks and business models are developed”.

The company has identified three core enablers of circularity:

Circular consumer behaviours

This it says will be needed to signal demand for circular products to brands. The DHL report suggests 50% of consumers are now willing to pay more for a sustainable product.

It adds that smart logistics solutions –multiuser repair warehouses, consolidated reverse logistics for returns and recycling – can also act as an enabler of circular consumer behaviours.

Circular supply chains

Two main challenges exist here, says DHL: how to reintroduce end-of-life products

“Logistics players are ideal facilitators of circularity –we orchestrate the intricate flow of goods”
What is a Circular Supply Chain?

Re-cycling fashion is a unique chance to deepen customer relationships in ways that will quite literally help to save the planet 115


“Consumer electronics and fashion can deepen customer relationships in ways that can help save the planet”
116 June 2023
together, fashion and consumer electronics account for 6% of global carbon emissions

into the cycle; and how to design product flows and cycles in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

The volume of return flows will increase as a result of circularity, says DHL, which adds that return flows need to be well integrated into the existing supply chain.

It adds that to successfully engage both manufacturers and consumers while protecting the planet, supply chains “have to be designed in a costeffective, convenient, and environmentally conscious way”.

Building a smart supply chain that incorporates circular flows involving repair, refurbishment and resale “sets a meaningful foundation for a successful circular setup”.

Visibility and orchestration DHL says with the increased complexity of circular supply chains, transparency and orchestration are vital.

It says production planning and inventory management will need to adapt to a circular world. “The purchase scheduling of materials needs to be adjusted to the availability of recycled materials,” it says, adding: “Plus flows of post-sale products need to be considered in inventory management.”

To achieve this, DHL says digital technologies and logistics players are “critical enablers”.

Appel says: “Logistics players are ideal facilitators of circularity by doing what we do best – orchestrating the intricate flow of goods.

“Circularity is about the flows of physical goods and relies on the careful orchestration of the physical supply loop across different elements.” 117 SUSTAINABILITY
Consumer electronics account for approximately 4% of global carbon emissions, and waste levels are very high


AIis playing an increasingly important role in the supply chain industry, allowing companies to optimise and streamline operations in many areas.

Predictive analytics, for example, helps companies anticipate demand for products and services, enabling them to make better decisions around inventory levels, production schedules, and delivery routes. Intelligent forecasting is also built on AI algorithms, which analyse data – including weather, economic trends, and consumer behaviour – to help businesses better plan their inventory.

Automation is another area of AI growth, with many supply chain processes, such as order processing, inventory management and logistics, benefitting from reduced staffing needs, alongside savings on time and costs. AI can also monitor the quality of products as they move through the supply chain, inspecting products for defects or anomalies.

The customer experience has also been enhanced, with AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants helping companies provide better customer service. In fact, there is a huge tech ecosystem built around the

118 June 2023
AI and machine learning has the potential to transform supply chain operations, at a point in history where tech-led evolution has never been more important

Dr Adnan Masood, Chief AI Officer & Lead Architect, AT UST GLOBAL is an engineer, researcher, and thought leader
120 June 2023

application of AI technologies across all aspects of business, including supply chain.

One such organisation is UST Global, a multinational digital transformation company that provides IT services and solutions to a variety of industries, including healthcare, banking, financial services, retail, and hi-tech.

UST has its own supply chain practice headed up by lead consultant Jonathan Colehower, who has spoken at Procurement and Supply Chain LIVE events about the digital transformation of the supply chain.

In March 2022, UST announced a strategic partnership with AI enterprise software company o9 Solutions to provide effective supply chain management solutions, as well as propel digital transformation for enterprise clients. With its planning and decision-making software, o9 Solutions enables organisations to accelerate the digital transformation of their supply chain functions, driving the digital transformations of integrated planning and operations capabilities.

The company’s move is typical of how the supply chain technology ecosystem is responding to the supply needs of businesses. The partnership combines UST’s systems integration and strategic knowledge expertise with o9’s AI-powered supply chain, revenue, and P&L planning and decisionmaking platform

But UST also has its own deep AI expertise, in the shape of Dr Adnan Masood, its Chief AI Officer & Lead Architect. Masood is also a visiting scholar at Stanford University. There are few people better placed to discuss the importance of AI to businesses in general, and supply chain in particular.

AI is about repeatability

Speaking to an audience at an AI conference in London Masood summed up the business uses of AI as being about “creating a repeatable approach to processes through the ecosystem of an organisation, and how that can be used to transfer information”.

He says that mining such processes with AI requires “multiple intelligent components to work with multiple modalities”.

This, he says, is the building blocks for enterprise AI, and for UST’s platform, called SmartOps. This, says Masood, “is automation on steroids”.

He adds: “SmartOps is an AI-powered intelligent operations platform built with the pillars of automation – knowledge management, intelligent monitoring and autonomous operations.

UST SmartOps is an AI-powered cognitive automation platform that holistically learns and reimagines your business processes while intelligently digitising and compressing manual workflows.”

Running on AWS, SmartOps works across business and IT operations, including help desks and onboarding tools. It optimises

“When AI is part of your machine learning stack, it’s so organic you don’t even feel it’s AI anymore” 121 TECH & AI

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procurement and supply chain management – everything from tracking shipments and invoice payment to contract management to ESG compliance.

“Businesses are evolving faster than ever, and to stay they need to focus on highimpact priorities,” Masood told his audience. “But that can be difficult with the backlogs of data, internal processes, and endless administrative tasks.

“Many companies seek products to solve this challenge, but a one-size-fits-all technology solution doesn’t account for the uniqueness of every business.”

AI ‘unlocks human ingenuity’

Masood adds that he and his UST colleagues combine strategic business expertise with knowledge management, automation, and AI “to unlock your company’s human ingenuity”.

“When it comes to your business there is no greater advantage than empowering the ingenuity of your workforce,” he says, adding:

“By reimagining your business operations, we empower your people to focus on those opportunities with the highest impact potential.”

He explains that AI-led technology works by ”learning processes and decisioning frameworks” and that it “maps how each piece of your business is connected”.

Typical of many AI platforms for supply chain and beyond, UST’s also mimics learned decision patterns “to execute processes at optimal speed and accuracy,” says Masood. “And also begins to suggest revenue-driving insights for your business.”

He says using AI-driven solutions, UST has delivered “measurable business outcomes within 90 days” and that it has also “reduced

“We combine strategic business expertise with knowledge management, automation, and AI to unlock human ingenuity”

Dr Adnan Masood





Masood is an engineer, researcher, and thought leader. His expertise includes scalable enterprise architecture, machine learning, and cloud platforms –especially Microsoft Azure and AWS – and is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Data Platforms.

operational costs for global companies by 30% within the first year”.

Interestingly, Masood says that when properly embedded, AI doesn’t even feel like AI.

“When enterprise software companies build seamless AI into applications as part of your machine learning stack, it’s so organic you don’t even feel it’s AI anymore, even though these cognitive components are automating your workflow.”

ML experts in short supply

Masood also told his audience that demand for machine learning experts is far outpacing the supply, and that to address this gap, recent years have seen “the biggest strides in the development of user-friendly machine learning algorithms”.

He added: “With auto-ML capabilities, non-experts can apply automated machine

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learning “to ease the burden and the workload”. He says this is all part of “the democratisation of AI”, another strand of which he says is “reinforcement learning”.

“Reinforcement learning is a semisupervised learning model that allows agents to take action and interact with the environment,” he says.

He adds that use-cases for reinforcement learning include personalised recommendations and “anything in which you need an intelligent loop of understanding and learning”.

Masood’s final word on AI was “it is a team sport. It is the business units, technology groups, and research teams all working together to provide business outcomes.

“That’s the key message – that all the components of AI are targeted towards providing businesses with a cohesive business outcome.”

SAPInsider report points to importance of AI to supply chain

A recent report suggests process automation is key to creating a robust supply chain during times of economic uncertainty.

The benchmark report –Process Automation in Supply Chain was produced in collaboration with SAPinsider, the world’s largest SAP community.

It shows that 51% of respondents say resiliency is the top supply chain concern driving the need for process automation, with agility close behind (46%).

It also found that 89% believe process automation in supply chain is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to attain digital transformation objectives.

But it seems a major gap remains between where the industry needs to be and where it currently stands: nearly three-quarters (72%) indicated that less than half their supply chain processes are currently automated, with this dropping to just 25% for a further onethird of respondents.

“When it comes to your business there is no greater advantage than empowering the ingenuity of your workforce”


The 5PL model gained traction during the pandemic, as ecommerce businesses new to international shipping found themselves under increasing pressure

TOP 10
126 June 2023

Fifth-party logistics provider (5PL) is a relatively new term, and refers to a company that acts as an integrator, overseeing and coordinating the activities of multiple 3PLs, to optimise client supply chains. The 5PL model gained traction during the pandemic, as ecommerce businesses new to international shipping found themselves under increasing pressure.

Many were faced with attempting to handle cross-border complexities, such as customs rules and regulations, while also having to focus on the business of selling. The concept of 5PLs is still in its infancy, but the roles they play typically include:

n Providing a single point of contact for managing multiple 3PLs

n Coordinating logistics activities across multiple regions or countries

n Developing and implementing supply chain strategies

n Providing supply chain analytics and business intelligence

n Managing supplier relationships and procurement activities

n Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards

Ultimately, a 5PL’s job is to provide a high level of supply chain visibility and control, while minimising the complexity and cost of managing multiple 3PLs.

The following are currently at the forefront of the emerging 5Pl market. 127

5PL Logistics Solutions

Director: Sreekumar S Nair

HQ: United Arab Emirates

5PL Logistics Solutions boasts a unique model that combines supply chain and business management solutions with “hightech facilities, state-of-the-art vehicles, real-time information delivery, and ready-to-occupy office spaces”. Established in 2015, 5PL Logistics Solutions was created to cater to Abu Dhabi’s growing need for a holistic supply chain provider. It offers endto-end solutions to companies seeking to expand activities in the region.


Vice Chairman: Tarek Sultan

HQ: Kuwait

Headquartered in Kuwait, Agility is a leading provider of supply chain services, innovation, and investment. It is a leading logistics company in Southeast Asia and offers 5PL solutions to clients that feature end-to-end supply chain management services, including freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution.

10 128 June 2023

DB Schenker

CEO: Jochen Thewes

HQ: Germany

DB Schenker offers a wide range of transportation and logistics services to businesses and individuals around the world. It’s a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, one of the world's largest transportation and logistics companies. DB Schenker provides services in air, sea, and land freight forwarding. Its 5PL offering includes contract logistics, warehousing, and distribution. It has a presence in 130 countries and operates a network of 2,000 locations worldwide.

Kuehne + Nagel

CEO: Stefan Paul

HQ: Switzerland

Kuehne + Nagel is a global logistics and transportation company that has operations in more than 100 countries and a workforce of over 83,000. Its range of logistics and supply chain management services include air and sea freight, road transport, contract logistics, and supply chain optimisation. In terms of 5PL solutions to clients worldwide, services include supply chain planning and optimisation, inventory management, and transportation management.

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CEO: Stanislas Bailly

HQ: France

SNECI is a global consulting and engineering company that specialises in the automotive industry. Its services cover a wide range of areas, including project management, quality management, supply chain management, and engineering and design. Its 5Pl services are designed to simplify cost control.

“Industrial clients are reassured to have local support close to their factories, speaking the language of their teams, in the same time zone, guaranteeing a 24-hour response,” it says of its 5PL service.”

CEVA Logistics

Deputy CEO: Olivier Storch

HQ: France

Global logistics company CEVA offers end-to-end supply chain solutions, including warehousing, distribution, transportation, and freight management services. Called CEVA Control Tower, its 5PL solution provides real-time visibility and control over the entire supply chain. Solutions are designed to be repeatable, scalable, and sustainable to ensure they can be repeated at any location around the world with the same level of success.

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06 05


CEO: Michael Hassing

HQ: Denmark

Maersk is a Danish integrated container logistics company and the world's largest container shipping company, with a fleet of 700 vessels. In 2019, it acquired Damco, which was integrated into Maersk's logistics and services division. Damco was a freight forwarding and supply chain management services company whose services included air and ocean freight forwarding, customs brokerage, warehousing and distribution, and supply chain management consulting.

XPO Logistics

CEO: Mario Harik


XPO Logistics is known for its innovative and technology driven approach to logistics and supply chain management. It has invested heavily in automation, robotics, and digital technologies to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the customer experience. It offers 5PL solutions to its clients globally, with services including supply chain optimisation, transportation management, and warehouse management.

03 132 June 2023

DHL Supply Chain

CEO: Oscar de Bok

HQ: Germany

DHL Supply Chain provides 5PL solutions to clients worldwide. Services include supply chain optimisation, inventory management, and transportation management. DHL Supply Chain is a division of DHL, the global logistics and transportation company that has operations in 50 countries, and a workforce of more than 150,000 employees.

“As a 5PL partner, we take care of our clients’ logistical demands, first by determining particular needs, then developing, implementing, and overseeing the entire solution,” it says.

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UPS Supply Chain Solutions

President: Bill Seward


UPS Supply Chain Solutions is a division of UPS, the global logistics and transportation firm, and has operations in 120 countries and a workforce of 400,000 employees. It provides end-to-end supply chain solutions, including 5PL services. Their 5PL solution, UPS Control Tower, provides realtime visibility and control over the

entire supply chain. Its new visibility platform, UPS Supply Chain Symphony for Healthcare, also gives customers in that industry “a visibility and business intelligence tool to manage transportation data in real-time”.

TOP 10 137

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