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Supply Chain Management: Vendor Relationships, Collaboration Critical

Supply Chain Management: Vendor Relationships, Collaboration Critical

Supply Chain Management: Vendor Relationships, Collaboration Critical

Strong vendor relationships, collaboration, and preparation are critical to overcoming supply chain disruptions. At the Oct. 27 Made in Connecticut: Manufacturing Summit in Wallingford, business leaders shared how they are navigating supply chain bottlenecks. Grant Thornton national managing principal Robert Hersh moderated the discussion, which featured Belimo Americas vice president of production Dan Hobbs, Miller Foods president Capri Brighenti, and Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals chair and CEO Chris Ulbrich [ pictured above, from left to right ]. The 2022 Connecticut Manufacturing Report shows a staggering 93% of manufacturers were impacted by supply chain disruptions in 2022, with 11% citing supply chain bottlenecks as the biggest factor driving their losses. ICYMI: The 2022 #MadeinCT #manufacturing summit addressed strategies and solutions for managing #workforce , #inflation , #supplychain issues, and more. @TDBank_US @RSMUSLLP @GrantThorntonUS @TheMfgInstitute @CONNSTEP @readyCTED #transformCT Seventy-one percent of respondents reported issues with product availability, with an additional 19% citing higher costs and 6% losing business or revenue. Ulbrich said lead times have risen to 40-60 weeks, and even then, suppliers were only meeting delivery schedules 15% of the time. “So 60 weeks from now, they get it to us late, and then we have to make it,” he told an audience of more than 220 manufacturing leaders at the Oakdale Theatre. “Sometimes it takes 15-20 weeks for us to make it.” Managing Disruptions Ulbrich said his company manufactures supplies for the defense, medical, and automotive sectors, so inventories increased dramatically to ensure products were made on time. “You don’t want to read about us in the newspaper, about how Ford has 50,000 cars stopped because of Ulbrich,” he said. Brighenti said building strong, long-term relationships and having additional vendors was critical to managing disruptions. “Vendor relationships are important, and then building on those relationships and having a backup to a backup,” she said. “Getting in front of someone makes a big difference.” “It’s really about how you make the adjustments.” She added that the best way to develop relationships with vendors was literally meeting them where they are. “It’s getting on the phone,” she said. “You need to talk, and see, and visit, and spend time” with vendors, she said. “You get on planes, trains—whatever it takes. You have to get there, because getting in front of someone makes a big difference.” Relationships Hobbs agreed, saying these relationships must go back years to be successful. “If you were starting to repair a supply chain problem in 2020, you started way, way too late,” he said, adding “the supply chain is really all about relationships.” Hobbs said simple things like being responsive to your vendor and paying your bills on time strengthens the relationship and keeps the supply chain flowing. Ulbrich noted that as the world has changed, so too has relationships with vendors. “Cost is out the window in a lot of cases right now.” Pre-pandemic, a 2% increase in prices would have met heavy resistance, Ulbrich said. Since COVID, some prices have increased 38%. “It was a one minute conversation,” with vendors, he said, and “the rest of the two hours is reliability and when can I get it. “Cost is out the window in a lot of cases right now. “There’s not enough people, inflation, post-COVID issues. People have moved off cost in some cases. It’s still important, but you need the stuff.” Reshoring All three business leaders encouraged reshoring—moving overseas operations to the company’s home country. Ulbrich said moving operations from Asia back to North America helped with sourcing and lowering prices. “We’ve been down in Mexico for 25 years,” he said. “Lots and lots of car companies are going there.” Brighenti said the only supplies imported for Miller Foods are those that cannot be produced in the U.S. “So we’re here—made in Connecticut,” Brighenti said. JUST RELEASED: 2022 Connecticut #Manufacturing Report shows labor shortage impacts 87% of manufacturers while 93% are dealing with supply chain disruptions. #MadeinCT #transformCT “We need found in Connecticut. Found regionally. Found in the USA.” The survey, produced by CBIA with affiliates CONNSTEP and ReadyCT in collaboration with RSM, shows nearly all (98%) surveyed manufacturers have their primary facility in Connecticut, with 90% making all products in the state and 10% locating partial production here. “Manufacturing in the U.S. is up tremendously,” Brighenti continued. “It’s a great field, but it’s also critical to our survival.” Hobbs said reshoring is fashionable, but cautioned against rushing into the process. He encouraged manufacturers to consider sustainability issues, the costs […]

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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