Harnessing The Challenges and Opportunities of COVID-19
April 30, 2020
The limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to have a hold on the world. If the first site of coronavirus-impact is any indication of timing for the United States, Time magazine reports that Hubei province in China recently ended its two-month lockdown. In the meantime, onsite skeletal crews, a remotely-dispersed workforce, increased shut downs, shift changes and other impacts are our industrial “new norm.” Communication between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and their supplier-partners is never more important than during times of crisis.
With travel bans and shelter-in-place orders in regions throughout the world, communication must largely continue virtually. The following considerations can help OEMs and strategic metal fabrication suppliers not only better navigate the pandemic, but create some silver linings.
- Prioritize Accessibility AND Security: Your Tier 1 supplier-partners should have multiple systems in place to communicate with customers, suppliers, employees, and community during a crisis. These may include email, phone, SMS texting, signage, and its website and social media outlets. Yet not every communication channel is right for every situation, and some systems may rely on an Internet connection that might be unavailable or unsecured. Consider the compliance and cybersecurity ramifications before jumping on a Zoom call and discussing IP, for example. Check with your IT team about the cybersecurity of any mobile devices and laptops that may be used for remote work, and discuss the precautions your strategic metal fabrication partners have in place.
- Set Clear Expectations: Supply chain delays can undermine necessary support, service-level agreements, material flows and even result in penalties for time-sensitive contracts. In keeping lines of communication open, supply chain partners need to clearly establish expectations for how work will continue. It’s also important to identify the contact parties involved on both sides of the relationship, especially if the current situation has caused changes to roles and responsibilities, such as furloughed engineers, buyers, and other frequent contacts. After all, delayed responses can result in lost business, increased cost or increased compliance risk.
- Exercise Flexibility: Everyone, across most industries, is adapting to a new business environment right now. This is probably not the best time to ask a supplier-partner that normally had a 60-day lead time to turn your project around in just five days instead. The reverse is also true – your supply chain network must exercise flexibility in adhering to your changing demand schedule, as markets poise for a rebound in 2021.
Communication remains key, as well as collaboration to ensure both your equipment manufacturing business and your strategic metal fabrication supplier-partners are not only able to safely ride out the storm, but better prepare for future demand. This time could serve as an opportunity to speed up new product PPAPs or have your supplier-partners build up low-risk inventory, for instance.
Responsive Strategic Partnerships
The situation is rapidly evolving. Supplier-partners are trying to meet business commitments while prioritizing the health and safety of personnel, their customers, and their communities. How successfully your supplier-partner relationships endure the current crisis will be a testament to business continuity planning on both sides.
Nevertheless, continuing effective communications during this difficult time can make a positive, lasting difference. Contact Miller Fabrication Solutions to explore the potential of a strategic metal fabrication partnership your equipment manufacturing company can rely on, regardless of business climate.