Supply chain issues are affecting everyone, from shoppers in supermarkets to those in manufacturing – John Mortimer, sales director for bathroom panel specialist Multipanel, reveals his thoughts on mitigating potential problems.
It’s no secret that managing supply and demand is a delicate process – a tiny supply chain disruption can easily catalyse operational delays and lost sales, which is a nightmare for any business.
At Multipanel, we continually consider all stages of the supply chain to help mitigate potential issues in the current environment. ‘Supply chain issues’ seems to have become a 'buzz' term used by many, beyond manufacturing businesses and tradespeople. From shoppers in supermarkets, to family members trying to buy secondhand cars, supply chain issues are clearly affecting the global population.
At the start of the pandemic, we, like countless other manufacturers, experienced delays in our supply chain. To reduce the impact felt by our customers and to maintain our robust supply chain, we increased stock of our raw materials against forecast. Beyond this however, we realised that maintaining a solid relationship with our supply chain was more important than ever before.
Why is maintaining an agile supply chain so important? With such an ever-changing and unpredictable global landscape, it has never been more vital to maintain an agile supply chain. Being able to manage bottlenecks and sudden changes means the difference between sink or swim in today’s world.
An agile supply chain offers protection against external threats. When you have up-to-date systems and processes in place, implemented alongside proper contingency plans, you can operate with more confidence – a confidence which will trickle down to your customers, who can place their trust in you.
To support an agile supply chain and prevent disruptions as far as possible, innovation is a key factor to implement. It is crucial to invest in new technologies and assets that can make improvements to bolster your supply chain.
For instance, at Multipanel, we recently upgraded the material we use in our bathroom panels to Medite Exterior MDF, a high-performance, specialist grade of MDF. Earlier this year – partly due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine – Multipanel stopped the importation of all Russian goods, which means cessation of procurement of Russian sourced plywood, which at the time accounted for around 85% of the global Birch plywood market.
Another major factor leading us to move to Medite Exterior MDF as our core material was that sanctions on Russian timber drastically reduced the availability of sustainably produced, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved materials to such an extent, that our supply chain options were severely impacted. We were not willing to sacrifice our commitment to using sustainable, FSC certified products, so we looked towards this new material.
The Medite Exterior MDF we use has undergone rigorous testing, to withstand extreme exterior conditions, and our finished panels have also undergone top-level quality testing to ensure that we maintain the high standards of product quality we set. Diversifying to this new material meant that we now have much more security in our supply chain, which is coupled with the fact that the MDF is also produced much closer to home, in the Republic of Ireland from FSC certified forests, which brings excellent sustainability benefits.
Overall, our ability to adapt and innovate has helped us maintain an agile supply chain with a product that is more local to our manufacturing site, while upholding our high sustainability and quality standards. Our customers can also expect lead times to be maintained as a result.