Catastrophic supply chain risks of a “no deal” Brexit


It’s not fashionable but I’m willing to put in a good word for Theresa May. Albeit unnecessarily and misguidedly, she has worked very patiently to stitch together some sort of tenuous British cabinet negotiating position for Brexit. You have to admire her patience. I was also impressed but some of her words when she announced the Chequers deal to parliament on July 9th:

The friction-free movement of goods is the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and it is the only way to protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which millions of jobs and livelihoods depend. So at the heart of our proposal is a UK-EU free trade area that will avoid the need for customs and regulatory checks at the border and protect those supply chains.

Those words suggested to me that Theresa May and her chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, have “got” just-in-time and how vital it is to our modern economy.

For a long time, whenever I tried to explain my career, I could see people’s eyes glazing over. Trying to explain in the pub that I worked in “logistics” was a concept only people who served in the army understood. I used to say I worked “in computers” instead. It was much easier. So, it is quite nice to finally see my career having some relevance to current affairs.

I spent 35 years working in IT supply chains. This involved relying on daily trucks from the Netherlands. Day after day. The crux of the job was to reduce inventory to a bare minimum, to maintain high service levels for the customer and to minimise cost. I spent those 35 years focussing laser-like on that subject – cost, service, inventory.

Continue reading