Material shortages. Rising costs. Supply chain bottlenecks. In a market awash with challenges, solutions can often seem hard to come by. But with a bit of creativity and a whole lot of trust, those solutions are more plentiful than you may think.
This past year has been particularly challenging as manufacturers, fabricators, and machine shops continue dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, labor shortages, and uncertainty in the commodities market.
Mike Nauman and Jeffrey Pitzenberger, two general managers with Ryerson Advanced Processing recently joined Cup o’ Joe to discuss the value of having a partner that is fully invested in your success. See full clip below.
Here are some points from that discussion, coupled with real examples of how Ryerson has helped solve such a challenge in the past year.
“With lead times extending out to mid-year next year on some products, at times you need to go a different route to get what you need,” says Pitzenberger.
Put into perspective: Here’s a story about one manufacturer that needed help sourcing heavy walled tube. Lead times on the material were out more than two months, but without it, production lines would be halted indefinitely.
Enter some creative thinking. Knowing that the same material could be produced by boring steel bar, Ryerson offered this as an alternative—with availability immediately. They would use standard grade bar and use deep boring equipment to produce the tube to the precise specifications needed.
The manufacturer jumped at the solution and was back fully running its production line with no downtime.
“By swapping out the tube for the bar we were able to meet the mechanical properties of what they were looking for, and most importantly we found a way to get them what they needed. It came at a different price and different lead time, and it was the lead time that was most important, so they jumped at the solution,” says Pitzenberger.
“It could be a situational effect where something is delayed from overseas, so we have to help our customers flex that capacity. We are able to that by connecting all the touch points and find the right solution for the customer,” says Nauman.
Put into perspective: A large fabricator was in search of machining capacity for tens of thousands of cold finished bars. No problem, right? Here was the hitch: the parts were stuck in a container on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with no estimated arrival date. Also, the first release of 7,500 machined pieces was scheduled in two weeks.
Without these parts, the fabricator would be at a standstill and could not ship the conveyor units that were in such high demand. Utilizing four different locations, Ryerson was able to source most of the capacity needed as well as the entire amount of material.
With the help of Fay Industries, part of the Ryerson Family of Companies, Ryerson was able to compress the supply chain by having a local machine shop pick up some of the work. That meant the machined parts were able to be delivered even faster than anticipated. In addition, Ryerson took on powder coating the machined bars as well, further easing the burden on the customer.
“You cannot always necessarily see that far ahead and there are times when you need to make best of a situation, however it’s the flexibility in the supply chain that is most important in such situations,” says Pitzenberger.
Put into perspective: Here is the story of a fabricated plate project for the U.S. military. The scope of the project involved 6” thick plate. Because it was over the standard width of a typical burn table, only one mill in the U.S. could make the product.
Further complicating the project was the fact that they material arrived late to the Ryerson location. No problem, as workers at the facility worked over night to burn the plate so that they would be ready to be loaded onto the truck the following morning.
Then came the call. The machine shop responsible for the work notified Ryerson that the material did not meet the ASTM flatness requirement necessary for them to machine the plates. Not a problem for a company that has a broad network of partners. Ryerson located a shop that had a creative solution that involved heating and cooling the plate. The heat would carefully walk the waves out of the plate.
This process helped flatten the part within specification, allowing for the material to be delivered to the customer just in time to meet the deadline.
Planning for 2022:
So, how do you plan for 2022? According to Nauman, “It’s about being engaged with your customers and making sure you understand those bottlenecks–whether it’s short term or long term. Working with RAP means an ongoing effort to help solve whatever those internal bottlenecks may be.”
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