Strategies to Handle Supply Chain Disruptions

As if there isn’t enough uncertainty in the marketplace, with businesses still recovering from the pandemic and other potential changes, concerns are arising among customers about disruptions in their supply chains. These disruptions can be caused by a wide range of circumstances—from technological glitches and spikes in customer demand to lengthy transit times, elevated trucking rates, and, of course, unprecedented events like a global pandemic.

At Baillie Lumber, we understand the importance of a strong supply chain and related logistics in the hardwood lumber industry. It is a part of our commitment to customers that we do all we can to ensure continuity and to immediately address any problems that come up with respect to delivering the high-quality hardwood lumber our customers need when they need it.supplychaindisruptions

Still, as the past year has demonstrated, challenges persist. How can customers cope with supply chain disruptions and related issues? Here are a few things you may find helpful to keep in mind.  

Keep an ample inventory on hand. It’s not always easy to anticipate peaks and valleys in customer demand, but when it comes to guarding against supply chain disruptions, stockpiling inventory is often a wise choice. Whether it is specific products you primarily use, such as 4/4 Prime Hard Maple, 4/4 FAS White Oak, or 8/4 Prime Walnut, for example, stockpiling inventory when it becomes available can make a big difference for your business when things get tight.

In these cases, businesses must “consider the inventory location and replenishment strategy” that works best for them, and make sure the stockpile is “located and stored in a manner that isolates it from the risk it’s counteracting,” notes IndustryStar, a supply chain services company.

Maintain a diverse range of suppliers. Savvy business owners understand it’s foolish to rely upon one supplier alone. They leverage the power of the internet and other resources to leverage the expertise of multiple suppliers—local, national, and international—to ensure smooth operations. When pursuing this strategy, be sure to identify:

  • Cost-efficient locations
  • Reliability of shipping routes
  • Effects on business promoted by cultural or political situations

In addition to using multiple suppliers, it’s a good idea to keep a specific “back-up” supplier on hand. Through proper negotiations with a supplier of your choice, you can rest easy knowing arrangements have been made for use in an emergency.

Conduct a “supply chain stress test.” Businesses should regularly take a close look at potential gaps in their supply chain logistics. To do this, consider running a stress test (under a variety of disruptive factors) to see where weak links might exist. By doing this, IndustryStar says, businesses “identify and eliminate weaknesses found in their current operations in a controlled environment.” This is far preferable to finding yourself in a “live disruption,” which if handled improperly, “could result in catastrophic failure.”

Invest in efficient technology. A further step towards protecting your business centers on investment in efficient inventory management systems. The best technology smoothly integrates customer, sales, and supplier data with your production facilities, warehouses, and sales operations.

The information derived from a real-time understanding of inventory levels, available stock, and a supplier’s on-time performance can help you cope with a disruption in the process. “Knowing the inventory levels at your vendors and raw materials at your supplies will help you avoid volatility in your supply chain,” notes Forbes. 

Understanding that a disruption in the supply chain can result in lost sales should spur businesses to be proactive in defending against this situation. By taking precautionary steps, businesses stand a better chance of minimizing damage and recovering more quickly from any serious logistical challenges.

How has your business handle supply chain disruptions? We would love to hear what has worked for you!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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