Managing manufacturing expectations

Tioga’s MD, Warwick Adams explains that honesty, communication and support are key to navigating a manufacturing environment never before seen by CEMs.

Tioga’s activities encompass design, engineering, procurement, supply chain management, manufacturing, test, configuration, warehousing and distribution. In short, the company has positioned itself to manage customers’ products from initial design-for-manufacture requirements, through ongoing manufacturing, to delivery of configured product to the end user.

Tioga works hard building relationships with its suppliers and has developed and maintains a well-established, local and global supplier network of small, medium and large distributors and subcontractor facilities. Materials control solutions allows the use of e-commerce when  dealing with purchase orders, expediting and rescheduling orders and requirements. Efficient progress chasing, especially with component availability, reduces lead times and shortages to controlled and acceptable levels.

In a normal environment with stable designs all the above is easy to maintain. Efficiencies, bulk buying, holding stock and call-offs are part and parcel of a relationship which saves time, saves money and creates stability.

However, it is safe to say the current environment is far from the normal one we previously loved and cherished. Offering long term vision, component availability and pricing—helping provide security, continuity and save money—is a thing of the past. This situation got progressively worse through 2021 and will remain for 2022 and beyond.

Stock rose rapidly to record levels, never seen before for a healthy CEM. Scheduled run rate orders have been reduced to part availability, assembling small batches, taking key parts off old/returned stock and various other avenues to keep production flowing. This, along with price increases across the board, is making life frustrating.

Everyday involves firefighting, progress chasing, finding alternatives and redesigning boards. Most time is spent liaising with customers, working together to make it happen. 

It will be a while before this industry returns to normal. With numerous customers relying on supply to keep their businesses running, plus long lead times and increasing costs, business will remain challenging in 2022/23. 

Once the market settles down there will no doubt be a flood of parts and, with stock holding at its highest, there will be other challenges to deal with. 

Tioga’s MD, Warwick Adams said: “Here at Tioga we just find that honesty is the best policy, communication is the key and we will support our customers the best way we can whatever the challenges may be.”