Always have a Plan B. That’s something we’re taught early-on in life, but the truth is, it’s easy to become complacent and not have a backup plan. For manufacturers, this can be particularly risky since, so often, unanticipated events out of their direct control on the supply side of production can cause turmoil.
If your primary supplier is somehow incapacitated, deliverables are delayed. Your orders go partially or wholly unfulfilled, which has a ripple effect on your customers. Waiting could cause them to lose money, not to mention patience with your working relationship. Once your customers are frustrated and possibly one foot out of the door, it’s too late to wish you had a contingency plan. The damage is done.
To avoid the “what ifs” of relying solely upon a primary supplier, many manufacturers work with a secondary sourcing partner. These secondary sourcing partners might only be temporary or assume small roles in regular production, but the advantages manufacturers realize from having a reliable backup readily available are substantial:
Risk Mitigation During Supply Chain Disruptions
There’s no way of predicting every possible scenario that could occur between the placement and fulfillment of an order. Adverse weather and natural disasters, for example, might make it impossible for a primary supplier to satisfy their obligations. What then? Having a secondary supplier can mean the difference between meeting or missing production deadlines — but a word of caution. Not every secondary sourcing partner can fill the gap. Be selective when bringing a secondary supplier on board. Thoroughly vet their capabilities, and determine if what they offer aligns with what you expect in terms of quality, consistency and timeliness.
Secondary sourcing partners provide manufacturers with an opportunity they might not know they’re missing — the ability to compare and contrast supplier quality. Insights gained from putting primary and secondary suppliers side-by-side could prove valuable from a process standpoint. Let’s say you discover your secondary supplier is producing parts of a higher quality faster, or providing more comprehensive support than your primary supplier. It might be time to give them a larger portion of your part or component production, if not entirely make a switch that could result in a boost to your bottom line.
Flexibility Provides Opportunity
When it comes to finding a secondary supplier, often their best ability is availability. Do they have a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get the job done? Are they flexible enough to be responsive to your needs, especially after an unforeseen impediment jeopardizes your on-time production schedule? Will they work with you to ensure seamless quality, consistency and fulfillment? Seeking out honest answers to these questions will help you determine the fit and future of a secondary sourcing partnership.
Having a reliable secondary sourcing partner goes a long way in instilling the confidence manufacturers need to get the job done — and done right — in general, and especially in the wake of unexpected events. If you’re looking for an experienced injection molder that knows the importance of quality, can tackle complex designs and has a wealth of engineering resources, we can fill that pivotal supplier role! Learn how we’ve helped other manufacturers overcome their production challenges by downloading our Industrial and Critical-Use Injection Molding Part Histories.