Manufacturing lead times have been increasing for several reasons, including the rise in global demand, transportation meltdowns, and the tightening of the labor market. While some businesses have been able to mitigate the effects of these delays with supplier buffers or contingencies, it is unclear when or if material lead times will ever return to pre-pandemic levels. Many companies are experimenting with hybrid supply chain strategies and taking a fresh look at past trends to offset grim shortage forecasts.

Reduce Risk With Hybrid Strategies

The phrase ‘lean manufacturing’ was coined in the 1990s to describe an organizational philosophy that combined assembly line efficiency with just-in-time inventory management systems. But 30 years of relentlessly pursuing lean operations evolved into a dangerous game of cost-reduction chicken– a competition to hold the least inventory, source the fastest materials, and orchestrate nail-biting production sprints to meet market demands. 

Recent economic events demonstrated just how precarious the balancing act had become, and many saw their inventory management strategies upended by shipping delays and logistical challenges that no one imagined likely before 2020. The ongoing ramifications of these unanticipated events are pushing manufacturers to take another look at strategies relying on immediate availability and asking, “Is it worth the risk?

Remedy Long Lead Times With Collaborative Process Development

Many business strategists are revisiting concepts like reshoring and early supplier involvement (ESI) to reduce lead times. Some manufacturers choose to increase inventory by developing accelerated ramp-up plans with vendors. Inventory buffers can help mitigate extended lead times and manufacturing delays since they allow companies to monitor inventory levels closely. However, this method works best when suppliers have maintained steady production throughout periods of high demand, which has been difficult for some manufacturers due to increased lead times and shortages in critical supplies.

ESI’s resurging popularity is likely due to a number of factors: the cost of unanticipated delays, gaps in the workforce, and the volatility of steel and other commodity markets, to name a few. Additionally, manufacturers can collaborate with suppliers’ process engineers to identify opportunities to optimize production phases. By improving the efficiency of individual processes, it may be possible to reduce the overall manufacturing time.

Leverage Vendor Expertise to Outsmart Delays Before They Start

Of course, no matter how well an OEM plans for delays, back-ups may still occur as a result of unforeseen circumstances. When this happens, it is much more manageable for manufacturers to address the problem and recover from the delay when they have established open communication with vendors that can actively engage in process development, identify potential speed bumps, and brainstorm creative solutions. Investing the time and effort required to build a robust and communicative relationship with your suppliers now could be your key to weathering future storms.

Duval Precision Grinding offers process engineering services that can help manufacturers optimize production strategies and reduce manufacturing delays. By working with Duval, companies can improve the efficiency of their production cycle and achieve extraordinary parts. Duval has a deep understanding of the precision grinding process and can identify and address potential bottlenecks or missed opportunities.

Want smooth operations tomorrow? Better get in touch with Duval Precision Grinding today.

Share This