As time trundles on and we reach the midpoint of the year, the WEPA UK team is seizing a brief moment of calm to reflect on what has been a chaotic few months. In doing this, we are also taking the opportunity to look forward, and act upon what we have learnt.
It was early March when we first felt the huge surge in demand for toilet paper as the COVID-19 lockdown beckoned – it was nothing like we’d ever faced before. Of course, as one of the UK’s leading paper manufacturers, we already had a buffer in place designed to absorb fluctuations in the market or general consumer trends.
The stockpiling of household essentials meant that the availability of paper towels and toilet roll was few and far between. Images of empty supermarket shelves were splashed across the news and social media.
We even spoke to the nation’s media to allay any concerns – this was a challenge we could more than face. In fact, production employees at our Bridgend Paper Mill were working round the clock just to keep up with demand. And we got there, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff across the board.
One thing is certain: the last few months have opened our eyes to a number of new, and better, ways we can move forward – and do so in a way that prepares us should something similar ever strike again.
Supply chain visibility
Transportation and logistics are a key element of our business in any regular year. The moving of products from warehouses to distribution centres and into stores requires a complex web of disparate companies to work together in perfect harmony. The pandemic disrupted this on a large scale.
However, it also taught us not to rest on our laurels. It reminded us that there is an ever-increasing need for supply chain operators to remain reactive and plan for any eventuality. We act on this by implementing various fail-safe measures, which we can fall back on should a local or national disruption occur, and looking to new technologies that can assist us in this mission.
We constantly strive to achieve the very best in factory-floor efficiency and productivity. Our integrated Bridgend Paper Mill covers 75 acres, containing a paper machine and seven converting lines. This allows us to deliver variety in bulk, from your entry-level products to more premium ranges, such as lotioned bathroom tissue and printed kitchen towel.
Though, like most other manufacturers that have felt pressure during this time, we are now focusing on scalability. If we can easily scale our factory-floor machinery and warehousing capacity up and down, according to consumer demand, we can work smarter and better serve our customers – this being our ultimate goal.
The nation’s economy has been hit, but we believe that this worldwide disaster has caused people to reassess what matters most – the protection of their loved ones’ health, their community, and the environment.
For us, sustainability has always come first. We are the largest supplier of 100% recycled household paper in the UK. We also hold a number of different environmental accolades and meet a number of stringent guidelines to minimise our environmental footprint. But we know there is always more that can be done. After all, you can’t live a healthy life on a sick planet.
We look forward to the future and building on what we have learnt in a post-coronavirus era. Watch this space.