Fallas Automation, a Waco, Texas-based manufacturer of packaging machinery, case packers and related equipment required quick turnaround from a supplier of smaller conveyor parts to fulfill vital delivery commitments.
“Lead times are critical for big manufacturers. They only have so much planned downtime to install and integrate new equipment, and cannot tolerate unplanned production downtime, which can cost thousands of dollars an hour in some factories,” says Kenneth Wolff, operations manager at Fallas Automation. “If you cannot guarantee parts and equipment delivery in the needed timeframe, they will not remain a customer for long, so you need a quick response.”
While just small components in massive conveyor systems, such parts play a critical supportive role in terms of the function and effectiveness of the final system. So much so that failing to receive necessary parts can bring portions of crucial production lines to a halt, potentially costing thousands of dollars per hour in downtime.
Avoid costly delays
Despite the prevalence of international supply chains, when expediting conveyor system installation and replacement parts is essential, the downside of overseas procurement is clearer than ever today. “Even before COVID-19, we had problems with procuring parts offshore with lead times of 8 weeks or more from Asia or Europe. Now, with the crisis, such procurement could take even longer and changing trade policy could cause additional delay,” says Wolff.
According to Wolff, many companies now rely on just-in-time delivery and do not keep much in stock. Complicating matters is that Fallas Automation typically has a very short lead time to custom build its systems for customers, which makes lengthy offshore sourcing problematic.
“Often, we may only have a 22- to 24-week lead time to deliver the complete system, so waiting 8-12 weeks for small but important parts from overseas is unacceptable,” says Wolff.
As a solution, Wolff turned to Mason Plastics Company (MPC), a Winchester, Tenn.-based manufacturer of small conveyor parts, to streamline parts delivery.
Compared with foreign suppliers that can take weeks or even months to provide components, part turnaround with the domestic manufacturer is usually within a week and can be significantly faster when necessary.
“Working with a domestic supplier like MPC expedites our process, and has helped us out of a bind on more than one occasion. Once for an important conveyor equipment shipment, they manufactured and shipped us about 20 parts overnight for next day arrival when the parts were not in stock. In a crunch, they will do everything they can to help you out,” says Wolff.
Whether conveyor manufacturers require parts for a new installation or unplanned repair, working with an expert domestic supplier can expedite the process, and even tailor parts to the application when necessary.
Ultimately, this approach leads to increased production uptime and greater profit, without the uncertainty or logistical headaches of waiting for offshore shipments that could end up further delayed in customs.