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Delivering supply chain solutions

FTA has recently launched a brand-new supply chain consultancy service. Three industry experts – Martin Palmer, Eddy de Jong and Paul Wilson – will deliver the new service, which will complement FTA’s existing in-house consultancy service.

(Picture above - top from left: Martin Palmer, Eddy de Jong and Paul Wilson)

The three men, who have previously worked together at a specialist logistics consultancy, have a wealth of experience across a broad range of areas including warehouse performance, supply chain optimisation, urban logistics and outsourcing support. Each has more than 25 years’ logistics industry experience working for some of the sector’s biggest brands, including 3PL, public sector bodies and blue-chip consultancies. Logistics Magazine caught up with Martin Palmer to discuss how the new service can help businesses add value to their supply chains.



Martin Palmer’s first role in logistics was with Applied Distribution. “It was an MBO [Management Buy Out] from Geest and the management team was great and keen to grow,” he said. “We expanded quickly and eventually floated back in March 1994. I thought I had entered a land of milk and honey...”As Palmer’s career progressed, he went on to hold several senior positions in the industry, including roles as a group commercial director, business unit director and development director with some of the largest providers of transportation and logistics services in the UK.

“All the organisations I have worked in have wanted to grow and improve their businesses,” he said. “To do this you have to have talented people around you who can create innovative new ways of doing things that add real value to clients. If you can achieve this, you can not only gain new clients but hopefully make a small margin too.”



Having spent the past few years as a consultant, Palmer is surprised by how much similarity there is between life as a consultant and being directly employed. “Clients are usually looking to plan for their futures, improve the efficiency of their businesses or deal with a problem that they have,” he said. “These are usually the same starting points as in my 3PL world.”

Palmer also enjoys helping his clients implement the solutions that have been devised, which ensures that all the projects he works on have real deliverable outcomes.



One of the most exciting parts of the job, Palmer believes, is seeing the innovation and ideas that result from a project being implemented. “We always involve the company’s management teams as far as we can so the project outcomes are shared,” he said, “which means the client teams feel part of the process.”

Describing new ideas as the “life blood” of what the industry does, he said that thinking about new ways of working is essential to improve operations and make them more efficient.Another benefit of using consultants is that they have a wider view, which comes from working across the whole market. They can therefore suggest technologies and innovations used in other sectors.



One of the fastest growing trends Palmer has identified is the demand to re-engineer supply chains to align with a company’s wider environmental objectives. “Every city is looking to control its air quality, minimise congestion and make the local environments better for the people that live and work there,” he said.

This requires organisations to think differently about their operations, particularly within the urban environment. “Can consolidation be made with others?” he asks, “What is the right fleet mix with EVs and bikes? What are the likely future constraints? All of these mean looking at operations from a different angle to make sure we all get the environmental benefits we want whilst maintaining operational efficiency.”



The new supply chain consultancy service draws on a wealth of combined experience and expertise from the three consultants. “Paul and Eddy have both held senior positions in the logistics world and they have been consulting longer than I have so they are able to bring even more experience to this new venture,” Palmer said. “Whatever members need help with, there will have been a similar project that we will have worked on. That’s what makes it such a strong team to support FTA members.”



Warehousing and inventory often make up one of the largest portions of supply chain spend. Ensuring that operations are efficient and effective is a key deliverable for all operations directors and chief operating officers. The supply chain consultancy team helps provide independent advice on how to improve the value add of members’ operations.

“Making sure that your warehouse operation is as efficient as possible is key not just to making profit, but also to providing the best customer service for your clients,” Palmer said. “We have worked on numerous projects where an outside pair of eyes is able to see benefits that are sometimes lost to those in the midst of achieving their daily targets.”

These improvements can be achieved in a number of ways, including changing the storage layout, optimising the mix of mechanical handling equipment (MHE) being used, better systems, clarification around standard operating procedures, use of automation and mechanisation. “When applied correctly, all of these can have massive benefits,” Palmer said.

FTA's consultancy team can help provide independent advice on how to improve the value add of your operations. ★www.fta.co.uk/warehousesLM



Logistics has changed faster than many industries over the past quarter century. While Palmer finds it hard to name the single biggest change in the sector, he finally settles on the rise of e-commerce. “This has led to increasing levels of information expectation which is having a ripple effect across all the other areas of logistics. It has driven a new age of automation that has seen new and innovative solutions come to market and it has broken down international boundaries and compelled service companies to constantly evolve and improve.”

Published On: 02/03/2020 10:44:53



Below, the list of areas where the three consultants believe they can add most value.

• Strategic business reviews.

• Supply chain optimisation.

• Resolving the urban logistics challenge.

• E-fulfilment.• Sustainable supply chains.

• Warehouse operational reviews.

• Warehouse design and automation.

• Technology and systems.

• Property services.

However, this is just an outline of what they want to achieve on behalf of members. “We want to engage with members to understand their businesses, their ambitions and aspirations,” Palmer said, “and work with them to help deliver the future that they want.


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