You’re sitting at your desk with a dazed expression, overcome by disbelief after a frantic exchange of emails.
The shipment. Is. LATE. AGAIN!!!
As you squeeze the company-mandated stress toy in your fist, your head swims with the anxiety of pushing back all the dates on your calendar. You dread informing your boss about the latest setback.
While certain aspects of your lead time may seem unavoidable, there are still many ways to reduce the severity of delays and the overall toll it takes on your production.
Regarding die-cut quotes, Strouse has been giving them since 1986, meaning we have ample experience combatting lead times to reduce shipment delays and improve your quoting process.
Our tips for overcoming lead times will equip you with a better understanding of why manufacturing lead times extend and how to preemptively reduce lead times instead of glaring at your calendar.
Tips for Overcoming Lead Times
Overcoming lead times isn’t about banishing sudden and unexpected circumstances, but eliminating time-draining obstacles in advance instead.
As you read through the following tips, consider how you might bolster your calendar against time-draining obstacles by compiling crucial information that can be conveyed to your converter the first time you reach out.
TIP #1: MAKE BLANKET PURCHASE ORDERS
You aren’t ALWAYS going to place multiple orders with the same converter, but if you have various projects in the works, then it’s worth considering a blanket purchase order (BPO).
Blanket purchase orders allow your converter to book you for weeks, even months in advance, meaning their machines are reserved for YOUR job. Plus, you’ve given them plenty of time to find and acquire suitable material.
Standard purchase orders are more difficult to coordinate than blanket orders because they’re not scheduled as far in advance, so it’s more challenging to work them in around other projects.
Although they might sound overwhelming, blanket orders are music to the ears of your converter.
When you schedule a blanket purchase order, you buy a large quantity but schedule releases throughout the year. This allows your converter to commit to buying the material and avoid supply chain problems.
Sudden disasters can be impossible to plan for, but your converter can handle the chain reaction through an open stream of communication.
For instance, if a material isn’t available, your converter can suggest an alternative. At that point, you could have more time to adjust your calendar than if it happened before a standard order scheduled in a week’s time.
Finally, even if lead times are too long, even with blanket orders, you can walk away, secure in the knowledge that you just saved yourself from a useless back-and-forth conversation.
TIP #2: PAY ATTENTION TO MATERIAL LEAD TIME
Adhesive converters often use outside suppliers for materials, which has its own lead time.
The unfortunate truth about third-party suppliers is that they’re subject to possible delays.
Material lead times are always fluctuating, which is why part of the reason why they’re typically the longest of the potential lead times. If your lead time is too long, your converter will likely offer to find an alternative material or supplier.
With hundreds of different parts in production, it wouldn’t be convenient to own a bulk supply of every material. Therefore, instead of warehousing our materials, Strouse relies on outside suppliers to get the material you need.
If you’re planning to provide your own material, congrats! Not only will this save you time on your quote, but you’ll also have control over the shipping and you can avoid delays.
TIP #3: UNDERSTAND TOOLING
If this is your first time ordering from a converter then they’ll need to find tooling (unless the process is entirely laser or digital knife). Everything we do is custom, which means we need to get custom tooling as well.
The die cut tool manufacturer is your converter’s primary other supplier, one who builds “dies,” or metal parts that require delicate crafting to fit your design. These dies must be shipped to the converter before production can begin in any meaningful capacity.
Like any other supplier, there is always the possibility of a delay hindering them.
The best way for you to help ensure a smooth tooling process is by relaying your tolerances early on and remaining in open communication with your converter as they optimize your design for cost-efficient die cutting.
TIP #4: BRING IN THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Let’s say your task is purchasing: You’ve been given a product sketch and sent on a quest to find a suitable converter.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as taking the drawing and turning it into your product design. Your converter will have questions about the tolerances, the temperature, and more.
Often, the conversation is relayed to engineering, and it makes more sense to arrange a meeting between technical experts on either side. The entire discussion moves more quickly when we have access to these experts instead of somebody else answering questions on their behalf.
Don’t be afraid to introduce your experts once we start asking technical questions– direct communication will make your entire project move at lightning speed compared to playing email tag.
TIP #5: STAY FLEXIBLE
The list of possible errors that could befall a manufacturing project is endless, so the best possible action is to stay flexible and keep in touch.
“Staying flexible” refers to your willingness to consider alternative materials, design adjustments, or other solutions your converter suggests in response to ongoing issues. Sometimes things occur with the supply chain or manufacturing that will require you and your converter to have a conversation. By remaining flexible, we can ensure these disruptions have minimal impact.
As your converter, we’ll do our part in providing accurate and updated lead times, but we pride ourselves on remaining flexible. Strouse runs multiple operation shifts daily, and it’s possible projects can be expedited if our schedule allows it.
How To Overcome Your Lead Time
The best thing you can do apart from following those tips is to provide all the information you can and stay in touch with your converter.
If an issue arises on your end, we’d be happy to know about it. On the flip side, we’ll give plenty of updates on how the production schedule is running so that you can make any needed adjustments.
For more information on how long it might take to get your project up and running, request a quote, and we can discuss how much time it’ll take for your die cut part to succeed.
And if you’re feeling more confident on lead times but unsure where our pricing stands, look at the cost of a die cut to see the factors that will increase or decrease your final cost.