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There are few things more important to a factory or warehouse than the availability of materials and supplies. Whatever your business stocks, manufactures, or supplies, the truth is simple: if you don’t have the materials and supplies you need to distribute and manufacture items, you’re not going to be in business long.


Accordingly, any gap in materials availability is going to have a huge impact on your business. Even the briefest shortage or most miniscule outage can potentially affect your ability to deliver on time, which can easily (and quickly) impact your bottom line. If your business has been affected by outages in the past, or if you want to prepare for any potential supply shortages, we’ve got a few tips here to help keep you ahead of the curve:


Identify the Source of the Shortage: The first step should be to figure out exactly where the shortage is coming from, and more importantly why. Is there a part that hasn’t been showing up as often lately? Are costs for a certain item rising due to lack of supply? Or has a vendor informed you that a certain material won’t be arriving on time due to some kind of calamity at the factory? Identifying the cause and source of the product shortage, and starting with the specific products that are affected, will help you go forward with your shortage management strategies.


Open Communication With Your Suppliers: Whatever the cause and source of the shortage, clear communication with your suppliers and team is crucial. Identify your contacts at the supplier that’s being affected by the shortage and contact them as soon as possible to get as much information as you can about the shortage. Keeping the lines of communication open will help you keep informed on what’s going on with the shortage, and keep you fresh in the minds of the suppliers when the shortage is over to help bulk up your supplies when the time comes.


Begin Sourcing Additional Suppliers: This is always the most difficult step on such short notice, but if the shortage time is going to be long enough that your business will be negatively impacted, you may need to find alternate suppliers in the first time. Look into other sources for the same item, and be very upfront about your needs and timeframe – while the price might be a little higher for such last-minute provision of needed items, if the overall impact on your business and bottom line can be mitigated it will be worth it as a long-term investment in the health of your facility.


Prepare Your Facility For The Shortage (And The Return To Normal): Of course, less items and supplies coming into your warehouse or factory means that daily operations will be affected, even slightly, and your workers and warehouse will have to compensate for the change in supplies. Keep a section of your industrial storage and wire shelving open for when the items will be available again to avoid being caught off guard and unable to organize things, and repurpose any workers who may have been handling the missing materials to other tasks until the shortage ends.


Sadly, unless you yourself are the supplier there isn’t much you can do to totally prevent product shortages and material issues. But with some proper planning and fast thinking, you can mitigate the damage done to your business and keep afloat until your items are available again.

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