Supply chain professionals at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK’s annual logistics conference this week heard from former Ford President Sir Nick Scheele that an unexpected result of the Japanese tsunami was Ford could no longer offer a black car.
 
At the conference, Delivering in a World of Complexity; Tales of the Unexpected, Scheele revealed that Ford, once famous for offering “any colour you like, as long as it’s black”, could no longer deliver its “tuxedo black” cars as the pigment was produced only by a single supplier – based near the Fukashima nuclear plant.
 
Scheele also discovered that, unknown to each other, Chrysler, GM and a number of German car companies also used the pigment in their paints; but as they sourced their paints from different suppliers none were aware that they relied on this sole producer.

he said this was an example of why manufacturers should share more information – “go for transparency” – to ensure that a single third or fourth tier supplier’s failure could not have such a big impact on their supply chain.
 
The conference highlighted the importance of logistics in the UK’s economy; and how resourceful supply chain professionals can be in overcoming unexpected problems, imncluding the weather.

Norman Baker, Under Secretary for Transport, told delegates the unexpectedly harsh winter of 2010-11 had cost UK industry £280 million a day.

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