Unilever Bangladesh was awarded Bangladesh Supply Chain Excellence Award-2019 by IPDC in the Supply Chain Collaboration and Partnering category. In an interview with The Business Standard, Md Abdul Alim, procurement manager of the company, reflected on this achievement.
He also shared his experience in the company during the interview, conducted by Faijulah Wasif.
Abdul Alim said the award-winning project Material Commend Center (MCC) solution is basically a model of supply chain management through a third party.
"In this model the key to all the strategic work of the supply chain is in the hands of the organisation. The non-value activities of the supply chain are accomplished through outsourcing. This model is now followed by Unilever India, Sri Lanka and Nepal," he said.
What are the benefits of this model? His response was, "Full-time officers are much more expensive. It costs us less to do non-value activities with outsiders. Our technical persons can use all their time in doing their own work. It saves both time and money."
The procurement manager of Unilever Bangladesh said, "We have seen that this model saves 40 hours per month for a particular task. You can also get some benefits in case of payments. For some companies we can keep payments due for up to 90 days."
"Here, the third party works on follow-up and documentation as regular monitoring. If our staff had to do this, it would hamper other day-to-day work," he added.
Md Abdul Alim said the decline in service loss has increased efficiency in operational activity. And this results in the development of alternative supply chains. "The MCC solution has brought a qualitative change in our supply chain. We are grateful to Bangladesh Supply Chain Excellence Awards for recognising that. This has increased the pace of our work."
Replying to a question about the response of vendors to this model, he said there were some complications initially, but later the process was explained to them. "Here all the strategic work, including relationship management and payment is in our hands. As I have said earlier, third parties only complete non-value activities like regular follow-up."
"We have a lot of partners with whom we work intensively. This model is totally a partnership model. And our model works for both upstream and downstream supply chains," he added.
Talking about the changes in the supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, "We are a global company. And we are an agile company."
He went on to add, "Unilever always thinks of its consumers. We have seen that the market for our security products has grown with the advent of the pandemic. We then paid attention to that."
The young official said there are also plans for consumers in other situations, such as Ramadan. "We prepared for the pandemic from the last week of January. At one point, we stopped importing raw materials from China. Then we started to import from India. Once they closed, we re-sourced the raw materials from China, Thailand and Indonesia. We didn't stop even for a day."
About teamwork in the company, he said, "We always try to work as a team. We want to move forward with a common goal. We will try to be involved in more digital activities in the future. And we are preparing our team that way."
The company has launched a project called PalliDoot to bring its services to the grassroots. The project is taking its products from village to village. "This is improving the quality of life of the villagers. They are becoming self-reliant. Our products are also going to the villages."
Abdul Alim thinks material connectivity to the consumer is one of the most important issues today.To him sourcing is the most exciting segment in the supply chain. "It is also important for the younger generation, who want to enter the profession to acquire technical skills and learn about sourcing."
As he put it, at present there is a need to use technology like block chains to do better in this sector. "Although Unilever Bangladesh has taken this initiative on a limited scale, the infrastructural context of the country has not been suitable enough for it."
He expects immediate action from the authorities concerned in this regard.