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A gap in your supply chain can happen for any number of reasons—when it happens, it’s time to work quickly and develop a plan so you don’t have to stop production (or can get back on track smoothly). Let’s look at some of the common reasons for supply chain gaps and how you can deal with them:
When you’re looking at a spike in demand, first, take a look at your current inventory. It may be possible to simply move materials from one plant to the one that’s handling the bulk of the extra work.
You can also look at your procurement practices and distribution networks. See if you can purchase additional materials from a backup supplier until demand returns to normal.
Severe weather, from blizzards to hurricanes, can ground planes and prevent shipments from reaching you. Here’s where you need to work with an expedited courier that has experience finding creative solutions to severe weather situations.
In some cases, when you have enough warning (like a hurricane), you may be able to proactively plan ahead and reschedule your shipments so you get additional supplies ahead of time. To do this, you need to maintain communication when your expedited courier so they can advise you on the best solutions.
For several reasons, the product you use in your operations may become unavailable: the supplier could go out of business or get acquired by another company and change its operations, or the product may be at the end of its life cycle.
Your design team needs to know the expected life cycle for each product you use and proactively update your product designs to accommodate either upgrades or replacement products. It’s also important to stay on top of industry trends and news so you can plan for product obsolescence and other changes.
Legislation and domestic or foreign policy can affect your supply chain in several ways, too. For example, research into health risks associated with a certain material could lead to legislation banning that material in manufacturing. We’ve seen this happen with lead and other materials over the years. Again, it’s important to adopt a practice of staying updated on research and possible legislation so you can plan for different scenarios.
You can also be affected by changes in trade agreements and tariffs—like we’re seeing now, particularly with steel and aluminum with the China-US trade agreements and NAFTA. In this case, it’s important to stay open-minded to explore alternate options and communicate with your suppliers about changes to pricing or available quantities.
As you’re making adjustments and closing the gap in your supply chain, you also need to do whatever you can to keep your production lines running. If your production slows or stops completely, here are some things to keep in mind as you plan to get back on track:
Talk to your express courier about when you’ll need to receive shipments (if you’re expecting something to arrive in the middle of the night, will someone be there to receive it?) and when you need them to go out. We often work with clients to create a progressive shipping schedule to catch up: if they typically send two shipments a day (morning and evening), they might send 10 shipments a day for a few days, then scale it back to eight, then down to six, and so on until they’ve caught up and can resume a normal schedule. Your courier can advise on the best (and most cost-effective) options.
Be prepared to do whatever you can to expedite your production without sacrificing quality: bring more people into work overtime or longer shifts, run your facilities at max capacity, or hire temporary workers to keep things running around the clock.
In some cases, you might also have to move inventory internally—from a West Coast plant to the East Coast to handle a demand spike from your New England customers, for example. Your express courier can assist with this as well.
There’s no getting around it—no supply chain is unbreakable. But with forethought and careful planning, you can have backup plans in place so you won’t be sidelined for long.
Your express courier is one of your trusted partners when solving supply chain issues—learn how CNW can help you before you need us.