How Mueller Is Managing Supply Chain Shortages
The supply chain crisis leaves American businesses with few options. Leaders can either seek out ways to work around material shortages or sit back and wait for someone else to come up with a resolution.
Fortunately for our customers, the Mueller Custom Cut team is full of first-rate problem solvers with can-do attitudes.
Let’s look at the biggest supply chain problems facing the manufacturing industry and how Mueller is dealing with these challenges.
What Are the Biggest Supply Chain Issues in Manufacturing?
Many factors contribute to problems with the manufacturing supply chain; however, most of the issues center around transportation and labor difficulties.
One of the main challenges with the supply chain is the bottleneck in transporting goods. You’ve likely seen images of ships full of product containers floating near Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles, collectively known as the San Pedro Bay Port Complex. These two ports handle more containers per ship than any other port complex in the world. 40% of all shipping containers enter the U.S. there.
Experts blame the bottleneck on amped-up consumer spending during the pandemic and the lack of labor to get those goods to customers. The number of truck drivers has dwindled over the past few years, even though hauling cargo across the country can be lucrative. If the supply chain is to function properly, there must be a sufficient number of workers not only in the ports but also on the road.
Some commodities that initially experienced supply shortages because of COVID and weather-related events remain scarce, such as silicone and petroleum-based products. Even though production is back to normal, there’s greater demand among buyers to stock up while they can and avoid these issues in the future, which depletes the supply.
The material shortage affecting these commodities has forced some suppliers to go on allocation. Businesses are waiving contractual obligations to fill orders and, instead, rationing limited supply across the customer base. When buyers can’t get firm commitments from suppliers, the lines of communication start to break down, and those relationships become fragile.
How Is Mueller Dealing With Supply Chain Challenges?
Mueller is tackling the ongoing supply chain crisis by relying on our well-established relationships with suppliers and our history of expert industry knowledge.
As the supply chain crisis unfolded, we knew lead times for products would be extended. We immediately worked to get ahead of the issue by widening our windows for forecasting purchases, doubling down on communication with suppliers, and asking for transparency on the status of orders, whether the news was good or bad.
“We really need to hear the bad news as soon as possible, because it gives us an opportunity to respond and try to establish some other kind of counteraction.” — Eric Seals, Director of Procurement and Systems Development at Mueller
This proactive approach with our supplier network allows us to go to our customers with options on what can be done instead of excuses about why we can’t deliver.
The Mueller team uses a wealth of industry knowledge to develop alternative solutions for customers experiencing a shortage of raw materials. If we can’t find another supplier for the requested material, we’ll suggest alternative materials to fit the application and add value to the product. Our experts can offer a temporary fix to bridge the gap while also working toward a long-term solution.
“We have people who understand the products we sell—and the related products we sell. So when we get into those conversations about how we can help somebody who’s in trouble, we can leverage those supplier relationships and material know-how to help them find solutions.” — Eric Seals, Director of Procurement and Systems Development at Mueller
How Can We Get the Supply Chain Back to Normal?
It will take quite some time to find a permanent fix for the overarching labor and transportation issues currently plaguing the supply chain. However, Mueller believes businesses can provide customers with some instant relief through better communication. We plan to take advantage of our supplier relationships, maintain a proactive approach, and offer customers candid answers about issues.
Managing Supply Chain Problems the Mueller Way
Mueller recognized the need to manage supply chain shortages in the early days of the pandemic.
We continue to use all of the resources at our disposal to the best of our abilities so we can help customers find alternative solutions.
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