Customer relationships key to navigating supply chain storm

Trojan Electronics 2018’s David O’Keeffe explains how strong customer relationships pay dividends when finding solutions to unexpected component shortages

Sourcing the right components, first time, every time is vital for manufacturers. Instead of worrying about this, one South Wales-based manufacturer believes it’s time to fully- embrace customer relationships.

David O’Keeffe, who runs the contract electronics manufacturing side of Trojan Electronics 2018, explained: “We have had several instances now where component shortages have resulted not only in delays, but necessitating product redesign. The ability to weather storms like these when components literally balloon in price overnight or become practically unavailable, necessitates an open, honest relationship where trust and collaboration is essential.”

In addition to its established mainstream franchise supply network, Trojan has embraced the grey market, even recycling or retrofitting to provide customers with a sustainable solution.

O’Keeffe continued: “Ultimately price is important. Unfortunately, when a component becomes so expensive—increasing from a few pounds to 20 times that price overnight—we need to look at other options. This is when the relationship really matters so the customer believes you are looking out for them.”

In addition to keeping an open dialogue, O’Keeffe values the company’s ability to flex with changing demand. O’Keeffe concluded: “We now often work in tandem with customers around product design or redesign. This provides peace of mind to the customer that they have options depending on available components. In some cases, we have worked with customers to procure materials 12-months ahead of time to ensure availability. This would not have been necessary in the past. Fortunately, we have a solid financial base which we can leverage to help mitigate potential cash flow issues.”