Tackling difficult supply chain challenges

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Supply chain challenges are hitting all manufacturing sectors due to the impact of the global COVID 19 pandemic. Tim Furniss, Category Manager at Hillbrush talks about how the company has been dealing with the issues it has faced in the last year.

tim-furniss The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic has dictated a requirement for companies to re-evaluate their supply chains, ensuring they are resilient, agile and robust enough to ride out the storm. The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in global supply chain issues and unforeseen challenges regarding costs and major extensions to lead times.

The global pandemic has had a massive impact on the way in which product delivery planning is managed and companies, like Hillbrush, are looking at new ways to create a robust, resistant supply chain for the future.

The global pandemic has contributed to a number of setbacks and a far more pressurised supply landscape. We are now all seeing the impact of driver shortages, with ‘out of stocks’ on retailers’ shelves and the inevitable price inflation that comes with this. Hillbrush has worked closely with its suppliers and, in turn, their suppliers to manage the whole process as efficiently as we can in an ever-changing business environment.

The manufacturing sector is seeing the impact in raw material costs, freight prices and increased lead times. Raw material cost such as for timber, has seen enormous inflation and we have had to negotiate hard with our suppliers to try to keep costs down. Hillbrush knows its products and understands its markets so has been efficient in its raw material ordering to help manage these additional costs.

As for others in product manufacture and supply, increased shipping costs were challenging before COVID 19 arrived. The trend before the pandemic was to adopt a lean ‘just in time’ business model. The knock-on effect of freight containers being used to transport previously such as PPE and sanitisers, meant that there were simply not enough resources to move other goods. This, coupled with the availability of lorry drivers, either unavailable or not able to work due to illness, exasperated the situation.

As a result, businesses are now looking to adopt a far more resilient supply chain model, with available stock and careful forward planning. Hillbrush has always held a significant amount of stock, but we have had to work to increased lead times with supplier ordering and order much more in advance to ensure that we can fulfil our customer product requirements.

We are investing in a new warehouse at our HQ in the UK, aptly named the Centenary Building to commemorate Hillbrush’s 100th year in business, so that we can hold much more product in stock for quick despatch. This will be a real benefit to our customers in these difficult times. Our British made brushes are also a real selling point for us in the current uncertain climate.

Covid-related challenges and world-wide container shortages have led to long delays and huge increases in shipping costs. Trying to find the best solution to these challenges has added major complexity to my team’s workloads.

We have reviewed the supply chain, our processes, invested in the teams and have gone big on stock levels to deliver the best possible service to our customers in what have been the toughest two years of my 22-year career. This year is Hillbrush’s 100th birthday and it is reassuring that we will be entering 2022 in a strong business position, despite the challenges.

Category: News Information


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