Interview: E.P. Barrus Ltd

Name: Paul Brownell

Job Title: General Manager - Spare Parts Department

Company: E.P. Barrus Ltd

How long have you worked for E.P. Barrus Ltd?

15 years

How long have you worked been in the industry?

In a supply chain environment for 24 years

During your time in this field, what changes have you seen?

The main changes I have seen would be number one IT, I am ashamed to admit to knowing what a telex is, IT has given us the smaller global market -through the web- we can now sell, buy and track transactions at a level only dreamed about 20 years ago.

Number two would be the development of outsourcing as an industry on its own not only for the supply chain environment but for every facet of any business- there seems to be a more cost effective expert advertising in most fields these days.

And number three is the focus of UK industry on ensuring a return from every single penny invested at every level.

Is it very different from when you first started out?

Hugely different from my first days in the industry - the biggest change would have to be the speed of business and the level of information available at your desk in an instant. The other big change is the rules and regulations. Just to carry to carry out business in the UK you have to go through so many hoops and ensure you tick all of the boxes. I would never advocate abandoning all of the common sense approaches to the environment, health and safety or employer/ employee relations but some of the regulations implemented today are insulting to the individual and create a fear factor that must impact on investment decisions in the UK.

How has your job changed as a result?

The speed of business means you have to keep up or die, keeping up with your suppliers and staying ahead of the competition is a big part. We all hear working smarter thrown around the workplace but few people are able to find the solutions to accomplish this. Finding cost effective solutions is even harder.

What is your opinion on the future of Supply Chain Planning?

Supply Chain Planning will make the difference between keeping a contract and losing it. In my view the future supply chain will be shorter and dominated by a small number of key players on the large scale. On the small scale all manufactures are being forced to make the increasing costs of plant and materials pay and are looking to maximise their resources through organised business partners or by cutting the number of links in the supply chain network by taking the role of distributor on themselves. Any pure distributor should be concerned as to the future of current contracts. Unless the distributor can add visibility and significant value to the business at a supplier level then that distribution contract is fragile. The future is openly sharing information and common goals.

What personal challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis in your job?

The challenges of every supply chain manager - reduced stock - shorter lead times-improved fill rates-increased sales - with fewer staff. Still working to achieve one of those.

How do you overcome these?

Seriously - the most important factor in achieving any of the above is visibility and a focused approach to your business model. With the right tools you can target the problem areas that every manager knows he has - so for me the single key improvement in the last four years is the ability to see the wood for the trees and the opportunity to use a rifle rather than shotgun to resolve the problems.

What software packages do you use to assist you with your job?

We have been an Optimza user for the last four years. Our ERP system is GEAC system21 and we shortly to upgrade to Aurora from Infor. Along with the standard PC offerings from Mr Gates.

What is your hot tip to others who do a similar job to you?

Find a way to measure your problems on a daily basis, be able to see those problems at line level and act accordingly.

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