Features

A fresh approach

When TM Insight acquired XAct Solutions last year, the business doubled in size overnight. As we move into 2021, the two businesses will join together in a rebrand and will now be known as TMX. Travis Erridge, CEO and Co-Founder at the company reveals more.

When MHD last sat down with Travis Erridge, CEO and Co-Founder of TM Insight, the business had just announced that it was acquiring XAct Solutions, a privately held Australian consultancy in supply chain and industrial property that advises leading organisations on their supply chain transformations.

The acquisition saw TM Insight strengthen its geographic reach and bolster its supply chain capabilities across supply chain, property and project management to support an industry that is growing at an exponential rate.

Alongside this acquisition, TM Insight has been growing its expertise across its digital and e-commerce offerings. With the appointment of Nicole Scherholz Cipolla, Jan Becker and Mitch Bittermann. Between the three international executives, they have led e-commerce and digital transformation projects for the likes of Global Fashion Group, Zalora and adidas.

TMX also now has a presence in New Zealand led by Caleb Nicolson and powered by the construction and project management expertise of Project Director Stuart Cox.  The company has a number of major active projects in New Zealand including a major network transformation project for New Zealand Post.

TMX’s property division has also been significantly bolstered by the recruitment of Nick Greenwell, Matthew Frazer-Ryan and Danny Green, adding over 50 years of experience to TMX’s property advisory team.

“Our assets are our people. We have a five-year strategy that features significant growth and in order to do that we need the best talent in the market,” Travis says.

The appointments in the e-commerce, supply chain, project management and property divisions of the business have also been followed by a number of new roles and promotions across Marketing and PR, Client Strategy and Business Development. According to Travis, the impact of these new capabilities will lead to TMX being able to deliver significantly more value to customers from strategy through to project implementation.

With a flavour of the past, while looking well into the future, TMX will bring the reputation and expertise of both organisations to provide more supply chain power, more on the ground expertise throughout Asia and more digital capabilities.

TMX now boasts more than 150 experts in supply chain, property, project management and e-commerce in more than seven countries across the Asia Pacific region.

“With the demand of doubling the size of our business overnight, we’ve had to bolster our business development and client strategy teams. The opportunity across Asia also remains significant. Hence the need to put people on the ground in this region,” Travis says.

Travis says many countries in Asia, including Vietnam and Singapore, are experiencing significant growth across e-commerce and digital and are as a result exploring high-tech automated solutions. “As demand grows, they want more best-in-class solutions,” he says.

Acknowledging that we are still some way away from normality, Travis points out that while there may be some normalisation of demand and spikes in volume, the keys to success will still be flexibility and agility. “We need flexibility in decision making so we can go one way or the other. We still need to make decisions even when there is instability, so agility and flexibility still play a major role here,” he says.

Travis is confident that there is still a huge amount of growth in logistics and supply chain ahead. “E-commerce isn’t protracting across this region. Our clients want a fast and fresh approach and that’s what TMX will give them,” he says,

A strategy shift

One trend that Travis believes we will start to see more of this year and further into the future is the reconnection of distribution and manufacturing in Australia.

“A lot of FMCG businesses in Australia have struggled with the logistics component and cost-to-serve aspect of their operation. For many FMCG producers, it’s too expensive to manufacture offshore because the cost of freight will kill the margin. So, they have to manufacture much closer to the end customer. What we’ve seen here, is that it’s often manufacturing along that leads this strategy,” Travis explains.

Traditionally in the FMCG sector, the cost of manufacturing is the driving force of where an operation is located, and limited thought process is given to the supply chain or logistics element.

“What typically happens is they look for the leanest operation, but don’t think about how this impacts the supply chain. A poor supply chain in the middle can have a detrimental effect on the ability to serve customers,” Travis says.

With the falling cost of automation and advancements in robotics over the last five years and now the government’s investment in local manufacturing, a significant opportunity has arisen for these manufacturers to invest in optimising their entire supply chain.

By investing in facilities that process, package, store and distribute goods from a single location, organisations can significantly streamline their supply chain, providing a plethora of benefits, Travis says.

The combined TMX business has already worked on projects of this kind, including Coca-Cola Amatil’s combined manufacturing, bottling and warehouse facility in Richlands, Queensland. This site was one of the first consolidations of distribution and manufacturing in one site in Australia. Travis and team have also worked on similar strategies and distribution centres for Arnotts and SnackBrands.

SnackBrands combined manufacturing and distribution facility.

“This shift had been happening before COVID, but some of the bottlenecks and shocks to the supply chain last year have certainly highlighted the opportunities in this space even more,” Travis says.

This can also be seen in a trend to appoint a Head of Supply Chain and Manufacturing, rather than having the two departments run in silos.

“When you drill it down, it’s really all about getting the goods to the store. If you can operate a full end-to-end solution, from production to shelf, there are greater opportunities to service customers more accurately, consistently and quickly,” Travis concludes.

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