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W2 Labs: A collaborative approach to the UK’s big supply chain challenges

Comment | 11 November 2020

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Being innovative and collaborative have long been important traits in the supply chain industry, and 2020 has highlighted the importance of both. With the unprecedented changes brought about by COVID-19 and Brexit preparations, UK businesses have had had to adapt to a range of new challenges at the sort of pace few could have predicted.

Embracing this disruption has been essential, so we believe there’s never been a better time for W2 Labs 2020 to get underway. The programme, launched in 2017, is fundamental to Wincanton’s in-house drive for innovation. It allows start-ups and early-stage businesses with great ideas to work within Wincanton’s UK-wide operations and bring new ideas and products that improve processes across the supply chain industry to the surface.

At Wincanton, we think it’s essential to know your own strengths and use this to identify areas in which collaboration can deliver the greatest benefits. The W2 Labs process has allowed the business to achieve the sort of speed-to-market the digital era demands.

oneVASTwarehouse.com is a shining example of collaboration catalysed by W2 Labs. Australian start-up Storekat successfully completed the programme in its first year, working closely with Wincanton to develop a business model based on individuals making spare storage space available to those that need it. It refined this idea and, in partnership with Wincanton, launched a digital warehousing marketplace that now spans the UK and it used by major retailers and SMEs.

This is not an isolated success story, with Peakon progressing through the programme too. Their staff engagement platform is now used by Wincanton’s 19,000+ colleagues to gain essential feedback that the business uses to create better, safer working environments.

On top of this, Soter Analytics’ SotorSpine tool - which monitors the movement and technique of people performing physical work - has been used by colleagues across the business. This technology gives real-time warnings about hazardous actions and creates personalised training plans, that can be accessed by a mobile app.

What to expect from W2 Labs 2020?

This year’s programme is already underway, with shortlisted start-ups and existing partners pitching ideas and products to tackle key challenges and deliver real improvements.

Dark store’ is aimed at bringing innovations in areas such as robotic automation, demand forecasting or process planning to help grocers and retailers respond to the UK’s eCommerce boom. Wincanton has moved into this space recently, supporting Waitrose to open and operate a dedicated CFC in West London.

With the country’s logistics professionals rightly recognised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for their efforts to keep the country moving, ‘People’ is another category in this year’s W2 Labs programme. We believe this area will help our colleagues become the best they can be, build on Wincanton’s positive culture of recognition and make sure everyone feels truly valued at work. This reflects Wincanton’s new strategy, which places its people at the heart of what it does.

Of course, we kept the door open for other areas with the ‘Open Season’ category; our wildcard with its crosshairs set on being disruptive and surprising.

"We’re excited for Pitch Day on 1 December 2020, during which our expert mentors from around Wincanton will select the successful applicants to enter the ten-week programme. I’m eager to see how this year’s successful applicants bring fresh approaches that tackle some of the biggest challenges in the supply chain industry." - Ian Keilty, Chief Operating Officer at Wincanton.

Nurturing ideas that can work within Wincanton, bring new ways of doing things forward and make a genuine impact is what W2 Labs is all about.

It is collaboration and innovation in action, at pace.

Read more about the W2 Labs 2020 programme

How can we help?

Have a supply chain question, need some help, just want a chat? Contact Wincanton today.