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Dear Joslyn: Avoiding Supply Chain Disruptions

Dear Joslyn: Man in Warehouse

One of my main material suppliers is unable to deliver my order as promised. Not only does this disrupt production at my facility, but now I won’t be able to meet the delivery dates promised to my customers. How can I avoid this in the future? 

– I.M. Stuck

Dear I.M. Stuck:

Supply chain disruptions can cause waves of panic on many levels. Below are a few tips on how to deal with and prevent these instances.

H2: Diversify Your Supplier Network

Dairy farmers rarely depend on one cow for milk, and you shouldn’t depend on one supplier for material. It’s easy to fall into the routine of placing all of your orders with one company. 

You develop a good working relationship, get to know each other’s ordering and shipping habits, etc. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be an issue. But when their supply chain is disrupted, say, by their resin supplier, you may be left scrambling. Cultivating relationships with multiple suppliers keeps your options open in a pinch. 

H2: Have a Contingency Plan

There’s no harm in hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Create a backup plan in the event that Supplier X is unable to deliver. Detail alternate suppliers (identified from your now diverse network), along with their contact information, product offering, typical lead times and pricing, if possible. Some suppliers may even offer to expedite your order for a fee.

H2: Pay Attention

Have you noticed that your current supplier’s lead times are getting longer with each order? Have deliveries shown up after the promise date on multiple occasions? Is the supplier providing products with unacceptable quality? The warning signs are there. Paying attention to supplier conduct may be the precursor to uncovering underlying issues.

H2: Communicate

Gather as much information from your supplier as possible (What is causing this issue? When will my order deliver? What will be done to prevent this from reoccurring?). Once you review the data, come up with a plan to address the issue with as least disruption to the customer as possible. 

This may include sourcing from an alternate supplier, canceling your current order or delaying the customer’s order. However you decide to move forward, anything that affects the quality or delivery of your customer’s order should be communicated to them immediately so they can prepare for disruption on their end. 

– Joslyn Manufacturing

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