Amazon's airborne fulfilment centre would use use a fleet of drones to make deliveries © US Patent and Trademark Office
Amazon's airborne fulfilment centre would use use a fleet of drones to make deliveries © US Patent and Trademark Office

SM news review of 2017 - part one

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
28 December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close we look back at the articles on Supply Management that proved most popular with readers.


The year kicked off with Amazon patenting plans for a flying warehouse, basically an airship that would deliver packages using a fleet of drones, which would be able to protect themselves from attack by coating themselves in foam. The Crown Commercial Service admitted that there had been so much focus on increasing its volume of spend that purchases were not aggregated properly. At the same time the Cabinet Office confirmed central government buyers would be assessed and graded on their ability to secure contracts.


Global supply chain risk reached its highest level in 24 years in the wake of president Donald Trump's election, Brexit and elections across Europe. A cold snap across southern Europe hit harvests, creating a shortage of vegetables. Former UK health minister Dan Poulter launched a blistering attack on NHS procurement, claiming the service was being ripped off to the tune of £2bn a year. This was also the month that saw the passing of CIPS CEO David Noble.


Manchester City Council saved £65m by establishing a new corporate procurement department. A report from the Institute for Government claimed the next three years were make or break for public procurement, while the Crown Commercial Service came in for criticism from spending watchdogs. Gerry Walsh was appointed interim CEO of CIPS.


Former Co-op procurement director Kath Harmeston was unsuccessful in her appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that she had not been unfairly dismissed following a breakdown in trust. Junior buyers were given valuable advice by the head of financial services at the Crown Commercial Service. The CIPS/Hays Salary Guide 2017 showed procurement salaries outstripped the UK average but a gender gap remained.


The Co-op, which is providing jobs for slavery survivors, was held up as an example of how firms should be tackling modern slavery when it published its 10-page statement under the Modern Slavery Act. A CIPS survey found a third of UK firms were planning to sever European supply chains to avoid post-Brexit tariffs, in an early indication of the potential impact of the referendum result. A report drawn up for the European Parliament showed procurement was an important area for Brexit talks.


A shock survey result showed half of executives didn't think procurement was effective and fewer than one in five thought the function had driven significant value. An analysis found Amazon, ever expanding its delivery footprint, was second in the world in a ranking of logistics companies by size. Prosecutions under the Modern Slavery Act more than quadrupled, indicating the risk to businesses of not carrying out due diligence.

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