There is no doubt that we are facing unprecedented times. From the Coronavirus pandemic's impact on the labor force to global economic disruptions, procurement is no longer as simple as "add to cart" and "checkout"!
As an electronics manufacturing company, CRI has been particularly affected by these supply-chain issues. However, our experienced buying team has been working tirelessly to secure parts from qualified vendors. They were also gracious enough to share some insight into how they are completing jobs during these challenging times.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from our team is the importance of daily maintenance. Our buyers track all open orders daily, checking specialty parts and purchases holding up assemblies multiple times a day. The team also refreshes their inbox hourly, as email has been a key tool for communicating with new suppliers in different time zones. Finally, vendor websites keep order information organized in a single spot, eliminating the need for our buyers to scour their email for tracking links.
In spite of our team's diligence, some problems remain unsolved. Authorized vendors we have relied on for years are limiting quantities of parts available for purchase and are raising prices to curtail demand. While we acquire what material we can from them, our buyers frequently search for other qualified suppliers. According to our team, it is critical to check the original part manufacturer's website for an accurate list of authorized distributors, instead of taking a supplier's word for it.
At times, it is necessary to buy parts from brokers, which are suppliers that the original manufacturer has not authorized. Our buyers are careful to always request customer approval before purchasing from brokers, due to their varied acceptability. Broker parts generally cost more as well, due to tariffs, duty charges, and price-gouging. But, if a part is desperately needed by a commercial client, brokers can be a good resource.
Our team has struggled with these challenges for more than a year. Prices and lead times have only increased over the last 12 months. While there may not be a light at the end of the tunnel just yet, customers can take comfort in CRI's continued commitment to customer delight even during these difficult times.