These three words have become a common lexicon among Americans that probably no manufacturing, industrial, or construction worker would think everyone would know: supply chain issues.
For your average American, it’s maddening. For all of us in the industry, it’s really crazy. Some items seem like they’ve completely vanished from existence. Other materials are on backorder, maybe available in a few months. Furniture, lumber, adhesives, sealants, silicones, steel, paper towels – we’re all seeing issues just about everyone we turn.
Why are there supply chain problems?
First, let’s recap why is this is happening. There have been a series of reasons that supply chain woes are rampant and have gotten worse. The White House indicates really three reasons have made it nearly impossible to get things: a global pandemic where making needed components have been a challenge, climate change issues (including the ice storm in Texas from 2021) which have prevented some locations from making solvents and other materials, and a workforce shortage (such as in trucking and logistics as well as manufacturing).
But on top of these challenges, trade wars and a lack of diversity in the supply chain – where items have been made in one location rather than several – already have compounded problems. For example, chip manufacturing may be coming back to the U.S. to help increase computer supplies.
If those issues weren’t enough, though, there’s also more consumer demand. People have more money these days to spend on items and there’s pent-up demand. In other words, the demand – according to Marketplace – is driving up demand.
So, no matter how you look at it, it’s been difficult to get the material you need to keep your jobs moving.
How bad is it?
It’s not good. Even consumers as of the writing of this article are worried about holiday season shopping … and finding what they need. Omicron, the newest COVID variant, has made that holiday shopping and supply chain concerns worse.
Forbes says that, “Before the recent surge of the delta variant, 37% of companies in the study believed it would take more than six months for the global supply chain to return to normal. Some felt it would take much longer.” That article was back in September 2021.
Some of the Lane Supply Company vendors are forecasting things will return to normal in the summer of 2022. But returning to normal requires some of the above issues to be resolved – ending the pandemic, resolving location diversity for materials (for climate and other issues), and ensuring workers are available. We may be in this longer than we think, especially since worker shortages are predicted to be the new norm.
But it’s not all bad news.
One solution: vendor managed inventory
Luckily, there’s a solution to supply chain woes: vendor-managed inventory. What is it? It’s where your vendor manages needed inventory for you, so you don’t have to. Your vendor can order in advance to guarantee the components you need, storing it for you so you don’t have to worry about managing it or warehousing those supplies.
You may know it as safety stock or stocking agreements.
Whatever you call it, it keeps your jobs moving even in these uncertain times by guaranteeing you your supplies.
Another solution: choose vendors who manage inventory better
There are a variety of reasons industrial supply distributors manage inventory so well. The biggest one is it’s what we do. It’s our reason for existence. It’s that expertise that enables your team to do other things.
Insight into supply chain issues, options, timelines, and general forecasting
Our daily activities include working with suppliers such as 3M, OSI, Integra Adhesives, Loctite, Milwaukee Tool, and other suppliers to determine what’s available, what’s back-ordered, how long will it take to get moving again, when it can get to our warehouses, and other alternatives they also sell. It’s that forecasting and understanding that helps us get you the needed adhesives, abrasives, sealants, tools, and other industrial supplies.
Relationship with suppliers and leverage
But it’s not just knowing the ins and outs regularly. Because we buy in volume, we have leverage. Instead of ordering a few items regularly as owners and buyers might, we purchase thousands of items regularly. We’re even often our suppliers first stop when there are problems, such as low stock.
We’re also the supplier’s first stop when issues arise. Again, because we’re buying at volume, they’re eager to discuss options with us. (It’s happened before!) In other words, your materials issues aren’t yours alone – they’re ours. And companies, such as Lane, are happy to fix them, getting you what you need to replace problem industrial supplies. It’s what we do.
Relationships with delivery companies and leverage
It’s not just suppliers either. We have vendor relationships with logistical companies. So, whatever logistical issues that have compounded this supply chain snafu aren’t your problem alone either, they’re ours. We work with different delivery companies to get your needed supplies quickly. Agreements with each of them enable us to find the best deals or get supplies to you faster.
We also have insight into other options, even outside the main supplier, available that could substitute for the materials that are harder to get. Companies such as Lane specialize in having a variety of vendors at our disposal, getting the right sources when you need them.
We also provide options that save you time and money while improving quality when it comes to recommended items. Because our industrial solutions specialists have been in the business a combined 60+ years, we know what works and what doesn’t. We also know what works well, especially for the price.
At the end of the day, our goal is to make your company and employees more efficient and effective. Your success is ours. You get it all without the headaches.
Not tying up your resources
Your team has better things to do that keep track of missing items, low inventory, and which supplier can provide materials to keep your jobs moving.
Fighting for you, our customers
At Lane, we pride ourselves on our passion for customer service. We want you to get what you need to help your business thrive and grow. It’s why we don’t sell using a catalog. We want to understand your business so we can make the best recommendations.
Trust Lane with your supply chain issues
We’ve been in business 60+ years helping businesses just like yours. Because we’ve been around for more than six decades, we know how to get around issues and represent our customers. That attention to service has earned us a great reputation across the U.S. And it’s what’s helped us to continue to grow.
Learn how we can manage your inventory and make recommendations about products to keep your business running.