Wednesday, September 1, 2021

As The Supply Chain Wheel Turns

We actually had to check the date of this article to see if we were reading something from last year. Unfortunately, it was dated August 2021.

The simple message – the global supply chain is going to get worse before it gets better. Manufacturers and shipping agents point to a year of disruption, lack of containers, port congestions, and a shortage of vessels in the right positions, creating a situation where cargo demand far exceeds available capacity.

What does this mean in terms of US manufacturing? Shipping delays, increased pricing, lower stock levels, and what was hoped to be a short-term crunch now looks like it will have a material impact well into 2022.

The good news is that over the last 18 months at Comstar, we’ve learned some valuable lessons shared among manufacturers, distributors, and contractors/service providers. We’ve already detailed why it’s critical to have a pre-approved plan B for service delivery materials. It’s a conversation we’re having with customers every day. Sure, there’s some pain to get there - testing specs, additional training, etc. - but the ability to pivot no matter the supply chain disruption is worth it.

The second lesson we learned is to increase communication with our customers during times of disruption. Even if the answers don’t come easy, the best way to prepare for production delays or price instability is to have conversations early and often. We’re not always in the business of delivering good news, but we are in the business of keeping you informed of market conditions so that we can help make the best decision to keep you building networks. The value of working with a distributor is its ability to bob and weave along with your needs, not in spite of them.

All good things come in 3s, and really the third lesson is more a byproduct of communication – and that’s simply the concept of stock. Conversations we’re having as we begin the move into 2022 is that service providers realize the importance of having product on the ground.

Inevitably, numerous factors will continue to put pressure on supply chain and manufacturing. At Comstar Supply, we’ll apply the lessons we’ve learned over the last 18 months to help ensure minimal disruption and exposure for our customers.

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