Creative thinking is helping us manage global supply chain issues
There are always challenges in complex engineering projects, but the challenge of not being able to acquire the components you need to build a manufacturing machine due to global supply chain issues is relatively new. At KAON, it has required us to think creatively about how we manage sourcing quality components while delivering our projects to the standards expected by our clients.
One thing we are doing is accepting a different level of inventory for key, sometimes high-value, components. We now hold items in stock that we didn’t like to see sitting on a shelf before, even if they have a six-month or a year-long lead time before being needed.
There is a risk involved in this, but where we know we are likely to use them in future projects, we need to know that we have them in stock. So, we’ve had to review what we considered commodities and consumable parts, and we’ve had to grow that list.
We’re also working very closely with our stakeholders – our customers and our suppliers – and being open with them about our situation. We have to be honest with them about exactly what the constraints are, and sometimes we can come up with creative solutions where they accept different types of components, alternative components, even ones that they might have availability on that we don’t have.
The point is we all have the same plight. We all want to execute the project effectively, and they know as well as we do that material supply is both a global challenge and a critical factor in the process. Working together on the solution is always the smart thing to do.
As a result of these changes, we’re also trying to get more streamlined in our procurement and stores area. We have hired a stores manager who is able to operate at a high level, and his organisation within the stores is going to have a significant impact on the way we receive and manage goods. It will ensure that our increased stock does not lead to us having obsolescence issues or damaged components, and that we have visibility on every part – that nothing gets lost in our organisation.
We know that global supply chain issues could be with us for some time. We still have some significant challenges to meet, but our customers have really come on board with us. They have the same supply chain issues that we have, so they know there are real issues, and they are working effectively with us.
It’s a challenging and frustrating environment, but it’s also an opportunity to think creatively and focus closely on how you manage such issues. We are seeing signs of success from that close focus and starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, we are engineers, so we like challenges.