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Paul Casebourne looks at Industry Specific Qualifications for the Materials Handling Industry

Where there’s CILT there’s Brass in Supply Chain Management

A new ‘must have degree’ has arrived
From the Ninja training grounds of National Freight Corporation to NOVUS. The ‘new must have’ career with BSc Hons Degree for the next generation of movers and shakers. Who is man enough to step up to manage change in the new world order?

Supply chain chaos erupts when :-
Francis Maude & David Cameron’s Easter petrol can lays cabinet panic egg
Britain turns to Duracell for AAA rating as we run out of power
Bulgarian Government resigns en mass over energy prices
Bullied food price cuts hoofs own goal for retailers
National Health Service – national scandal
Meat processors go flogging dead horses
Faltering politicians make lights flicker
Bankers go bonkers on bonuses
UK falls into energy gap
Markets in crisis

What happened the day ‘Horby’ rin oot iv Gas
I can’t bear running out of stuff, there really is no excuse for it these days.

Some years ago I went to turn round a fabrication company up on the Northumberland coast, a lovely spot with massive coal reserves and nearly a third of the local population unemployed. As I arrived through the door, I was met by the accountant who announced "Horbys rin oot iv gas"
"Sorry",
" Aye, that’s reet man Horbys rin oot iv gas"
Herby had indeed run out of gas, he was our star welder, absolute legend, he was the welding equivalent of Lionel Messi ( allegedly the world’s best footballer). It was a disaster, no gas no welding, no welding no dispatching, no dispatching no invoicing, no invoicing no money, no money no bank. The weeks pay was due and a substantial order stopped for the price of a gas bottle, where to start was not an issue! How they got there was.

Most companies go out of business the same way divers drown. Gear in perfect working order, fatality caused by one silly mistake. It is not about if it happens it is about plan B when it does happen, as happen it will. Plan B as it stood when I arrived was to stand round slagging off the owners and complaining about their pay and the management. Blown apart by ‘us and them’. I just saw us in this situation, and did what was next. The gas arrived in 10 minutes as luck would have it. There was a vehicle I had spotted on the estate, and I "negotiated" a bottle. The change had started. My new nick name was "Sonic" courtesy of the foreman who named me wittily after a certain hedgehog, such was the pace of change. It stuck.

To train or not to train, how much is that question?
If we spent as much time training to avoid these sorts of incidents, as the military and emergency services spend training to deal with them, there wouldn’t be any. It is harder to get your car to the shops with more to deal with than getting a jumbo jet out of Heathrow, but you can drive to the shops on your own after only ten hours training. If you think driving instruction is expensive wait till you try insurance premiums for 17 year olds, what is that telling us. Plenty of them flew in World War 2 but you wouldn’t get on a plane if your captain was 17 years old. Then why is it ok to go to the shops unsupervised with 10 hours training? But the kids have to get experience. True, but if you don’t have the time to invest with them through the development of that experience where are you going to find the time to deal with the aftermath of the inevitable.

Why Horby rin oot iv gas
‘Horby’ ran out of gas not because nobody cared, but because nobody was trained. The very people I went in to help, at the top, were very highly qualified professionals. Their business was a car smash. They turned to the bank (in the days when small businesses still had bank managers, who could give them favours) and the bank turned to a retired Williams Holdings seasoned business professional who recruited me. The amazing thing about it was I didn’t put it right, they did, all the answers were there, they just needed to know how to get to them. All their gear in perfect working order!

The point is that holes are opening up in our infrastructure, procedures have gaping holes in them and our economy is stretched to breaking point in some areas and over indulged in others. The whole economy is one giant supply chain, yet we are fiendishly short of supply chain experts, we don’t even have any major formal qualifications in them.

The UK is on fire
To quote Einstein: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

Today we need power for charging our iphones, international dealing markets, fuel for transport and a whole raft of manufacturing operations globally. Companies have global stocks, a large amount are struggling to manage these, never mind global pricing. Global strategies and national laws are in tatters. Its a good recipe for a fight. Governments complaining about companies taking unfair advantage of international tax situations and so on. ‘The us and them’ divide growing exponentially in or own back yard. We are on fire!

Gadget heaven hacked off as crime pays
In an increasingly easy world with complex tools offering simple solutions, a New Zealand company offering ‘Baa" coding (Delloitte Canada) so you can meet the farmer and sheep whose wool adorns you. Supply chain management is the next big growth sector. This is before you tip in all the green issues. Choice requires complex control. The plane carrying your diamonds didn’t choose armed intervention, but someone hacked into the supply chain with the skill and precision of a surgeon. Base jumpers will continue to hack through security to throw themselves off buildings and people will be expected to predict this and get it right or pay the price of failure. Since when is it fair that gun point victims have less rights than the criminals who hold them to the ransom in their work. How on earth did they know where to make the raid?

The observation is that the pace of globalization is racing far ahead of our abilities to keep up with it. So the wrong stocks are in the wrong locations and the right stocks are absent. There are computer systems to manage this if you can afford them. For everyone else we just don’t realize how dependent we are on invisible people getting it right.

Poorly thought out legislation
The EU arguably created the horse meat scandal by their own legislation. At least 12 prime ministers are now involved – who thinks that a career in supply chain management is not a top job!! They allege criminal involvement. One thing is for sure "it ain’t working" Talk of damage to consumer confidence further exacerbates the situation and of course it sells newspapers and advertising who have been busy slashing supply chain costs for years. The BBC journalists were out on strike on the 18th of February over job loss worries. Why would that be a supply chain issue? Well Skype links are free! So you don’t need a reporter in Timbuktu any more, you just need a local with an internet connection wanting his 15 minutes of fame and you have the cheapest headline ever. What’s wrong with that? It solves all the problems of Press regulation if you don’t have one! Plus you don’t have to regulate Ahmed in North Africa – not our problem. Is that what just got into our food supply chain?

The cure
We could just learn and move on. There are few well trodden paths in supply chain logistics, that have a panoramic view of the situation. Even the biggest companies recruit from within their own rank and file primarily. Navel gazing is an issue. Universities don’t offer specifics. No real specific research, for example, out of date polluting coal fired power stations scrapped, demand growing and nothing timely built yet. So prices are going up and lights might go out. The supply chain for a new power station is awesome!!!

Is there anyone out there?
Well yes there is the program software writers who have cottoned on to this problem and these are the people who are advising the people, advising the business people and politicians of the problems. The trouble is that the people on the listening end don’t actually have anyone who is trained to deal with it. We can’t just send in the SAS every time!

Crime is paying
So criminal gangs test out our supply chain resilience in Cameroon and Algeria hi-jacking plants, taking hostages and killing people. What has that got to do with supply chain you may ask. Well they might have thought out a better response and had the right people and equipment in the right place. Its not like we are short of military advisers, who incidentally advise the Euro Parliament on legislation likely to cause civil unrest. That is what supply chain is all about. We had consignments, disrupted, delayed and lost due to the London riots. If you thought that was expensive wait until we run out of oil and gas! The prices are already bringing down governments. Why? Because the supply chain is awesome!!

A universal approach, charity begins at work these days
By now you should be getting the idea that there is a big career path out there. But this is a big career and like business studies it took a long time for the post war MBA qualification to get off the ground. Now we need the next phase of this structure in the universities. The MSCLO perhaps Master of Supply Chain and Logistical Organisation

Where there’s CILT there’s Brass to be earned
I spoke with Andy Kaye of BIS Henderson who is working with University of Huddersfield and who is an active member of The Chartered Institute for Transport and Logistics (by Royal Charter) or CILT. We concluded that under the current circumstances this section of the career path offered less competition than say law, medical or finance, better pay prospects, wider breadth of opportunities and a fast track option of unrivaled proportions for the top performers. All we needed was a formal qualification to launch it on its way, and not before time. For over 30 years he has met the challenges of supply chain management head on and is one of the few survivors of the Ninja training grounds of NFC. He is championing the NOVUS project together with University of Huddersfield Senior Lecturer in transport, David Leach, This fine Yorkshire institution is in an area which has a few logistical centuries of supply chain nightmares to resolve with canals that caught fire, trains that were wrecked and road infrastructures over some of the UK’s least hospitable terrain better suited to the wild imaginings of Wuthering Heights than 40′ articulated trunkers. The perfect birth place for a new focused qualification.

David’s background like Andy’s makes them both the ideal champions to put this new career path firmly on the SatNav of top jobs with best graduate placements and postgraduate training programs, coupled to career prospects that reflect the responsibility commensurate with the size of the global task these new pioneers will be required to undertake. Within a few short years, based upon our current problems, they should have CV’s that outperform that of Davy Crocketts’s.

The support these graduates need
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana,
Where it all ends: We don’t need politicians who think it is a good idea to write off five million jobs in any UK industry sector only to be replaced with non compliant tat from elsewhere which costs billions, or cheap unregulated GM food sources that sneak into our food chain. We need a plan for change first. This is much cheaper than job losses. Orderly industrial stability is king.
Robbing Peter to pay Al: Money placed where it is needed, not re-deployed funds distributed from overstretched airport security staff whilst leaving gaping holes in other areas on the fringes followed by two of the biggest airport heists in history. Whilst Rome burns, the politicians are finding new ways to break up the CAA. Is that really where the ball is? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Honourable practice in work: It all takes time and money, none of which has been forthcoming in the supply chain sector at any level, overlooked and undervalued until short termism rips through our infrastructure like an unstoppable virus exposing us to mass destruction in banking, insurance, pensions, food, crime and more, with only the military between us and complete law and order anarchy. We don’t need lorry drivers blocking our motorways and national health workers clogging up parliament thank you.

Joined up standards: The problem with all this is that it is so fragmented. Many of us are fully aware of the position but how on earth do you recruit the army of people on a vast scale to keep the integrity of our businesses and keep them out of the papers for all the wrong reasons. Empower the Euro MP’s to deal with the real issues.

Political will: When the BBC asked Michael Casebourne, then Chairman of ICE why our railways were falling apart and who he blamed for the high accident rate, he asked the presenter who he voted for at the last election. If you vote for a 50 year railway renewal policy don’t be surprised when you get what goes with it.
Rules and regulations: Like taxation, there are so many rules now affecting the supply chain industry that the time has come to make a career of it. There has never been a better moment. Include it in the degree course, we need these people in all sectors.

Changing the world
People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do – Apple inc.

Do we need more qualifications – you bet we do! Some one should have had their eye on this ball years ago. NFC did. Horse meat and gas is getting into the back of our business and political nets much too frequently these days. Fortunately we do have an answer and David Leach at University of Huddersfield and Andy Kaye of CILT are forging ahead with a new much needed Science Degree, which addresses many of the issues the recent storms have deposited at our front doors.

The dawning of a new career path
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want to do and then advise them to do it. – Harry S. Truman
I asked University of Huddersfield’s David Leach about how such a qualification could go some way to dealing with our current problems. This is what he had to say:

"Why do we need specialist logistics and supply chain management courses?
Quite simply because industry demands it. Such courses provide a structured entry point into the industry and help to establish supply chain management as a recognised profession of choice for talented young people.
Over the 30 years since specialist degree programmes in transport, logistics and supply chain management were pioneered by the University of Huddersfield, the supply of young people from the UK choosing to study this discipline has failed to keep pace with the demand from UK plc for graduates. Even against the back drop of high unemployment, the gap has been growing – as evidenced by the significant industry enthusiasm for the Novus programme.
To address the current shortfall, industry invests considerable time and money developing graduates from other disciplines to become the logisticians and supply chain managers of the future. The Novus programme will not only increase supply chain graduate numbers and quality, but also offers sponsoring companies the opportunity to be involved in course design and delivery. This will ensure graduates are equipped with the technical and professional skills and the understanding of supply chain management needed to shape the future of this vital area – and are able to contribute much more quickly to employing organisations than those with a less focused education.

The horse meat scandal demonstrates just how complex and internationalised the supply chain for even relatively simple products has become. To succeed, supply chain managers need to be able to manage complexity, be highly analytical, have excellent personal, professional and leadership skills, understand changing technology and have a sound knowledge of relevant supply chain theory and practice. More than this, managers need to be able to apply these capabilities in the context of a fast moving and challenging environment.
Focused supply chain education is critical to ensuring that the supply chains of the future are efficient and effective and that products are what they say on the tin – or on the sleeve of the frozen ready meal."

What the course covers
The University of Huddersfield Novus degree course covers supply chain management, finance, statistics, organisational structure and methods, sociology, psychology, transport network design, warehouse design, inventory management, supply chain IT and HR management. In addition, the core degree course is being supplemented with essential managerial ‘craft skills’ such as leadership, people management and communication.

Please follow the links below for more information for career advice or to lend your support to the program
7http://www.hud.ac.uk/uhbs/businessschool-news/unitotraintopuktalentinlogistics.php
http://www.ciltuk.org.uk/

Click here to contact Paul Casebourne and ‘Ask The Engineer’ about any Materials Handling problems or solutions

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