The 25 companies with the best supply chain and logistics practices

07 June 2018

New analysis has shown which international companies make use of the best supply chain and logistics practice. The list of 25 organisations is a diverse assortment of firms from the fashion, technology, fast moving consumer goods, food and drinks and cosmetic industries, among others, with UK/Netherlands multinational Unilever leading the way.

Each year, research and advisory company Gartner releases a Supply Chain Top 25 list, which identifies industry “best practices” and top performers. Simply put, a supply chain is a system of organisations, people, activities, information, and resources which are involved in moving a product or service from suppliers to the customer.

In line with most other industries, the sector is in the grip of a sustained period of change, as supply chain experts wrestle with the concept of digital transformation in order to both streamline and secure their operational processes. This adds an increased pertinence to the list companies and best practices released by Gartner, as the consultancy’s ranking can help industry members to locate who to look to, in order to learn how to successfully realign their business in the digital age.

“The ranking consists of an impressive group of leaders with valuable lessons to share, including three recent entrants from the life sciences, retail and consumer products sectors,” said Stan Aronow, Research Vice President at Gartner.

The 25 companies with the best supply chain and logistics practices

Alongside a general supply chain score from analysts at Gartner, the 25-strong list was determined according to return on assets (ROA), an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets, as well as a three-year weighted revenue growth figure. The process saw British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company Unilever take top spot. The organisation, which recently announced plans to unify its headquarters in the Netherlands ahead of Brexit, sees a diverse range of products including food and beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products through from production to consumption across Europe and the world.

This represents a third triumph in a row for Unilever, which has scored the top spot in 2016 and 2017 previously. This year it is followed by Spanish clothing company Inditex, US technology conglomerate Cisco, global consumer goods group Colgate-Palmolive and US technology organisation Intel. Global sports titan Nike, foods groups Nestle and PepsiCo, fashion retailer H&M and coffee chain Starbucks completed the top ten.

Following in 11th spot is 3M, formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, an American multinational conglomerate, and European multinational energy management firm Schneider Electric. In 13th, scoring the highest 3-year revenue growth average of any firm on the list at 38%, is newcomer Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company headquartered in Bagsværd, Denmark, followed by global computer manufacturer HP, and international cosmetics brand L’Oréal.

British multinational alcoholic beverages company Diageo ranks 16th, with the London headquartered firm joined in the top 20 by Seoul headquartered electronics giant Samsung, American medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company Johnson & Johnson, German chemical company BASF, and multinational retail corporation Walmart.

Sustained leadership

The final five members of Gartner’s list featured two new faces. While American multinational personal care corporation Kimberly Clarke and food and drinks behemoth Coca Cola were both returners, Home Depot made the list having been absent for the past three years, posting the second highest 3-year revenue growth of 19%. Home Depot is followed by first-timer Adidas, which recorded the highest 3-year ROA of any firm, at 14%. Rounding off the top 25 is automotive manufacturing giant BMW, the world’s third most valuable automotive brand.

While the list seems to have left a number of key names absent, it should be noticed that Gartner also holds a separate “Masters” category to prevent certain brands monopolising top spots, and preventing a diversity of tactics being commended by the supply chain and logistics ranking. This year, long-time supply chain leader and last year's runner-up McDonald’s joined Apple, P&G and Amazon in qualifying for the “Masters” category, first introduced in 2015 to recognise sustained leadership in the industry over the last 10 years.

According to Stan Aronow, "The key to McDonald's success is skillful orchestration across a network of strategic suppliers, service providers and thousands of companies and franchise-owned stores worldwide. The company is also experimenting with digital supply chain capabilities like augmented reality to manage storerooms, so staff can spend more time with the customer."


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.