Q&A with Peter Thackwray, Supply Chain Manager at ABP

Q&A with Peter Thackwray, Supply Chain Manager at ABP

Q1. Peter, you recently started your new role as Supply Chain Manager at ABP, what attracted you to this role and ABP as a company?

When starting any new role you look for opportunity and potential. The opportunity to use the skills and knowledge gained in a different environment. The potential that a new employer offers in terms of continuing the career path and helping to develop the business.

At ABP both come in bundles. Without doubt, the product ABP produces is World Class in terms of design, engineering and technology. The challenge is to bring to ABP a supply chain that can compare and fully serve all functions within the company.

The challenge was too tempting not to accept, the potential is there to create a pro-active supply chain culture and that opportunity was too good to turn down.


Q2. How long have you been working in the supply chain, tell us a bit about your experience?

I have worked in Supply Chain for over thirty years and I am CIPS qualified. In those early days, buying was on a bin card system, years before e-mails or even fax machines were available.

I used one of the first MRP/ERP systems, which was very basic and certainly nothing like we have today.

I have mainly worked in a manufacturing organisation but do have a number of years’ experience working in the food industry. I also owned and managed a café/restaurant for a while.

Working for both small and large organisations the only difference is in scale, it’s all about numbers and where the decimal point goes.

Negotiations with suppliers is always interesting and I have dealt with vendors from all parts of the globe including. U.K. China, S.Korea, India, USA and Europe from huge organisations to a man in his shed.

Getting the deal done results in job satisfaction, or finding that rare material in some dark corner of the World.

I recently had to source a small amount of an unusual Nylon resin for an urgent job. The lead-time was six months minimum so we would lose the contract ($1M+). Long story short, I found 5KG in the back of a warehouse in the Czech Republic and we completed the job.

The key to buying is to stay positive as there is always a solution.


Q3. How important is it for the productivity of ABP to maintain and develop good relationships with suppliers?

It is vital to have good relationships with all your suppliers. Having a collaborative understanding creates opportunities for both organisations. Each enterprise is in the business of making a profit and can achieve greater benefits by working closely together. For example, the knowledge that an ABP colleague possess might benefit a supplier and vice versa.

We are always learning and the key is to communicate well and develop a trusted culture of knowledge sharing.

A positive relationship can help reduce costs and waste, develop a leaner more efficient workflow leading to better lead times and more opportunities.


Q4. How in your opinion has digitisation improved supply chain operations?

Digitisation has helped through creating planning solutions that develop into a more visible supply stream. The result is a more responsive, agile and transparent network capable of coping with many variables. It is feasible in line with close supplier relationships to lower costs and accelerate lead times.

It improves greatly the capacity to run data analysis, setting up of stocking / supply strategies and reporting.

From bin cards to an efficient ERP system, the changes are incredible. A task that used to take a day or two to complete now takes a push of a button. Remembering of course that any system is reliant on good data.


Q5. ABP supplies world-class products to a global market, how key is it to have an effective logistics and operations strategy?

“One should always have a definite objective, in a walk as in life –  it is so much more satisfying to reach a target by personal effort than to wander aimlessly. An objective is an ambition, and life without ambition is ….. well, aimless wandering.” A.Wainright

The above quote sums it up very well. If you do not have a strategy and a good process, you will struggle to reach the objective. A World Class product requires a similar system to reach the customer when it is required.

Operations and logistics need a lean process for the product to move through the factory.

From beginning to end there should be a defined timeline as to how long a process should take the resource necessary to complete each task and the trigger to move it on to the next stage.

The strategy needs to be visually clear and the objective met on time in full every time.


Q6. Finally, what do you most enjoy about working at ABP?

The hardest question last…!!

From day one, the people at ABP have been great, the atmosphere is good and you can tell everyone is on board and wants to do well for the company and for the company to do well.

My team has been great in supplying information and helping me to understand the current systems. They have a lot of knowledge about the supplier base and its history at ABP, which has been helpful as we set about improving the supply chain.

There is a lot of knowledge throughout the business and everyone is approachable and willing to help and advise.

This openness at ABP creates is a good and enjoyable place to work.