- Approximately 83% of manufacturers experienced problems with suppliers last year, but only a third feel concern that any issues will spill over into 2017, according to a survey of over 1,125 professionals conducted by ASQ via its 2017 Manufacturing Outlook Survey.
- Optimism is likely fueled by engagement: 66% of those surveyed are working with current suppliers to fix previous concerns, while 35% are working with competitors. Still others have come to produce parts themselves or have begun stockpiling in an effort to avoid repetition of shortages or delays.
- Other challenges are anticipated in 2017, such as a talent crisis (30% see this as possible); regulatory changes (this worries 15%), and a possible shortage of parts (7% concerned).
Quality concerns are of utmost importance to manufacturers, but increasingly complex supply chains are making it difficult to consistently address the issues. While less than half of the respondents said they would replace their supplier, 35% remains a sizable figure for issues that may be fixed otherwise.
Situations to switch are unique, but a consistent cycling of suppliers can harm long-term performance as relationships take time to cement. The challenge, though, is devising strategies to decrease quality concerns upfront.
One solution is active, rather than reactive, monitoring of the supply chain to help avoid sudden surprises. While constant supervision or micro-managing is undesirable, requesting frequent supplier status updates at the contract stage ensures a constant flow of communication. Another solution involves using a quality management system (QMS) to consistently assess supplier quality and root out potential failures in advance.
Overall, the survey shows manufacturers are optimistic about their supplier relationships in 2017.