Time. For business leaders in just about any industry, this is a primary element that can often make or break a project. In those instances when a product needs to be delivered in a tight timeframe or a process falls outside your core competencies, the idea of ‘supply chain speed’ needs to kick into gear.

But given the complexity involved with certain projects, the idea of speed often can be elusive. Take oil & gas, for example. Whether it’s long-drilling tools, well heads and valves or even tools for downhole applications, complexity is commonplace. And that can often create enormous pressure on the supply chain.

Naturally, it starts with having access to the necessary grades of material—including 4130, 4140 and 17-4, among other primary grades used in oil & gas. This means working with partners that have strategic relationships with mills that can ensure continuity of supply.

Next, comes the specialized processing often required. Kevin Bury, Ryerson’s oil and gas market manager, paints a picture. He was contacted by an engineering firm in Colorado working on an oil and gas project with a very specific set of properties. The company was coming up short in a search for local fabricators to get the project completed in a timely manner.

This is where the value of an interconnected network kicks in. Bury contacts a location in Houston which has the capacity to take on the project—drilling and heat treating the material. Next, Ryerson’s large fleet of trucks can ensure delivery of the product to Colorado in the timeframe necessary.

On the surface, it seems like a simple contribution, but having a deep pool of resources from which to draw can be a powerful advantage.

This need for speed throughout the supply chain is evident across all markets. And in some cases, it can make the difference between fulfilling a big order or losing business altogether.

Husky Portable Containment witnessed this firsthand when the company, which supplies portable water tanks for use by the U.S. Forest Service to fight wildfires, was hit with an unexpected order.

“They needed 74 tanks and needed them delivered in one week,” says Jay Claeys, president of Husky Portable Containment. “And that definitely caused some concern; concern that we might not be able to fulfill the order, which could mean that we could lose out on the business to one our competitors.”

His uncertainty about the order came down to a simple case of supply and demand. Each month, Husky receives a shipment from Ryerson of roughly 3,000 feet of carbon round tube. But this order would require a total of 11,000 feet—which is more than Husky typically consumes over the course of three months.

It wasn’t as easy as locating material in one location and having it shipped. Instead, it required the need to leverage resources from Atlanta, Kansas City, Des Moines and Wichita—all working in concert to ship product out to Tulsa in a short period of time.

Making this happen wasn’t easy. Download the case study to find out more about what was required to ensure all the little details were handled.

In the end, supply chain speed comes down trust. A trust in partners that know your business, understand your requirements and take ownership that all the pieces come together.


The Gauge Ideas