Proactive Supply Chain Management Supports Growth in Plant Work

By Sean Salins, Supply Chain Manager

The Specialty and Plant Solutions Division has seen a 50% increase in the sale of medium and large size fittings in 2020, and a general uptick in business across the board. To support this growth, the Supply Chain team, along with the professionals in Specialty and Plant Solutions and Sales, have taken a deep dive into the numbers. As a result of a thorough and ongoing analysis, we are devising a collaborative and proactive strategy to sourcing in order to support this notable expansion. We are looking at ways to shorten the lead-time required on orders by establishing some SBI (stand-by inventory) protocols, as well as improving the quote system to foster maximum transparency, efficiency, and responsiveness.

To begin with, projects in the Specialty and Plant Solutions division are different; the timing for delivery of product is precise, and the success of these jobs is reliant on product reaching the site on strict deadlines. As a result, the supply chain team has created a process to sequence these orders and provide accurate, reliable real-time information from start to finish.

We have developed a PO Requisition module that enables us to tag purchase orders as “special.” This is well suited for the Specialty and Plant Solutions jobs, because it flags the order as “time sensitive” to all concerned—customer service reps, sales managers, the supply chain team, and most importantly, the supplier. We are all then able to monitor this order throughout production and shipping so that we make sure the process proceeds efficiently and on schedule.

SIGMA’s supplier partners and foundries are also an enormous asset to the Specialty and Plant Solutions group. Many of the fittings and restraints specified in plant jobs are not stock items, and often require some customization. SIGMA’s foundries have tremendous flexibility in production; they are able to make any fitting configuration required with no additional pattern investment or lead-time, as long as a drawing and spec are provided. This is truly an asset in the industry. In addition, our quality assurance protocols exceed industry guidelines and SIGMA engineers and inspectors work onsite to ensure that our standards are upheld on every single item that leaves the foundry.

We have worked with these foundries for a long period of time—we know them and we trust them. As a result, we do not shop jobs around, seeking the lowest price or the quickest turn around—a tactic that often compromises quality and risks delays. We rely on well-established, loyal partnerships that have served our customers and us well for years.

SIGMA’s Mexico supplier has been another huge asset to the Specialty and Plant Solutions division, and one that sets us apart. During the early part of the pandemic, this foundry provided a lifeline for many jobs. Although their product range and customization capabilities are not as broad as some other suppliers, our Mexico foundry’s delivery time is significantly less, which many customers find to be a good trade-off.

By working as a team, we are creating a collaborative, unified approach, and this will benefit our customers, which will always be the top priority.