Increased product demand and supply chain disruptions have resulted in many food processors having to wait longer than normal for their new machines.
Obviously, this can be problematic for organizations that are trying to open a new facility or increase production to meet demand. They need machines, and the longer they don’t have them the longer they’re not producing food to sell.
Many OEMs, EnSight included, have adjusted their processes in response to current challenges to mitigate rising lead times and costs.
Here are five of the main ways EnSight works to keep our lead times in check so we can deliver our equipment solutions to our customers in an acceptable timeframe.
One simple–and obvious–way to keep lead times from getting too long is to have the parts, components and materials in stock and ready to go when it’s time to start building the machine. Volatile supply chains, though, have made it hard to maintain confidence that we can order parts and get them in time to meet the agreed-upon ship date.
Over time, our purchasing team has identified machine parts that are difficult or impossible to receive in a timely manner. When those parts are also ones that we use quite often in our machines, we try to maintain a “safety stock” of that particular part. This is a practice we started before the pandemic even began, but we’ve beefed it up to include more parts and to keep more in stock to combat ongoing supply chain delays.
For some materials, parts or components, EnSight doesn’t keep a safety stock on hand and ready to go. It could be because we have low usage for part or it may be a purchase-to-order item that’s only used on custom jobs. Either way, if we can’t get the part in time to build the machine, our team will look beyond our normal channels.
Sometimes, that’s as simple as sourcing the part from a different vendor if our regular source doesn’t have it available. When that’s not feasible, our team will start considering alternative materials, parts and/or components. For example, we might substitute 3/16 plate stainless steel for 7 gauge. Or we might use a 4HP motor if a 3HP one isn’t available and it won’t result in a shortened life. Or, we might just use a 10” control screen instead of a 9” in a pinch. Either way, we find ways to continue forward with production without harming our quality.
The EnSight team is always looking for ways to remove non-value-added processes so our team can focus on the processes and projects we specialize in.
Our team regularly analyzes our jobs and workload to see if we can improve our efficiencies by outsourcing those non-value-added processes to others. In addition, we strive to be honest with ourselves and recognize where our and our vendors’ expertise lie. Therefore, when it makes sense from a quality and workload standpoint, we will outsource parts to other professionals to allow our team to focus on their areas of expertise more.
Proper planning is key to maintaining shorter lead times.
At EnSight, our management team keeps track of how long each machine takes to build, as well as all the projects we have lined up already. Therefore, when a new order comes in, we can quickly and easily plug it into the production schedule.
In addition, when a customer submits a purchase order, we set a target ship date and plan out all the major stage gates, including the target assembly date, to align with that date. Setting this goal helps ensure that all equipment and control designs are finalized and all purchased and manufactured parts are in stock when production begins.
With so many team members preparing for an order, it’s imperative they clearly communicate with the rest of the group to keep everyone apprised of statuses. This starts at the beginning when the sales specialists quote the order–one of the first things they do is meet with the plant manager to determine where the new project will fit into the schedule and how long the project will take.
Proper communication is especially important as the target assembly date draws closer because the assemblers need to know at the time if any parts are missing. If parts are delayed, our team strives to convey that to all relevant parties as early as possible, allowing everyone to plan ahead and adjust as necessary.
The EnSight team strives to provide our customers the quality, innovative solutions in an acceptable timeframe. As the supply chain remains volatile and parts are hard to acquire in a timely manner, we will continue looking for ways to provide relief to our own customers in the form of shorter lead times and quality, affordable equipment. Please note that lead times vary by product and can be longer or shorter depending on the components and our suppliers.
If you’re interested in learning how soon you can get an EnSight machine and how soon we can start helping you enhance your own processes, please contact our sales specialists now.