Time to Get it Right
Even under ideal circumstances, achieving 95-percent-or-better on-time delivery is well above average. It’s near perfection. It takes effort, intention, and the whole team to keep the lead time down and our on-time average up. The transparency of on-time delivery tracking shows customers how serious we are about it so that they know they can trust our lead times. It also helps us spot trends and get ahead of issues – or at least recover more quickly when they arise.
The On-Time Delivery Tracking and Lead Time Imperative
We’ve been maintaining and sharing our monthly on-time delivery tracking for years. That means you know almost as soon as we do when challenges arise. Normally, our processes enable us to adjust quickly and stay above or close to our goal. But when demand literally doubles almost overnight, and both capacity and the supply chain are already strained, there’s no time to waste. We are simply not satisfied with elevated lead times and missed delivery dates.
Keys to Reduced Lead Time and 95%-or-Better On-Time-Delivery Tracking
We’ve discussed supply chain challenges, materials pricing, and talent shortages over the past few years. We experienced those market forces just like everyone else. Just because it’s true does not make it an excuse. What we do differently is that we do not settle. We double down on solutions. We keep our cool, and we honor our promises, from pricing to on-time delivery tracking. Here are some of the keys to our recovery.
Operating at-or-near capacity is optimal if you’re not growing. With sustained record growth, we had already started to consider options, and in fact, we had already announced plans to expand both the North and the West plants. We were able to complete the North expansion, but the West was another story. That’s where the supply chain really got in our way.
We quickly realized that waiting for the materials to build out the West facility while prices rose exponentially would miss the mark on both timing and budget. In fact, with what we know now about lead times for building materials, we would still be waiting!
Fortunately, we had also already toured a nearby existing facility and were able to quickly shift gears to purchase the standing facility and renovate it to become the new East plant. Purchasing and renovating instead of building from the ground up also allowed us to do one of our favorite things – reinvest in Rhinelander and make an existing structure more productive. We closed on the property in February of 2022 and initiated operations by the summer of 2022, increasing capacity by about a third and reducing lead times by 25-30 percent from 2021 peaks of 12-16 weeks.
We developed the new East facility as a “prep plant” that operates as a service center. Many of the responsibilities completed here are parts of the process that vendors previously did, but not fast enough or high enough quality. The output is prep kits that then proceed to our other plants for fabrication and assembly. The focused service mindset helps with everything from hiring the right talent to process improvement. It improves morale right along with on-time delivery tracking.
One example of something vendors previously supplied was custom metal components. For the first time, we now have our own laser table to burn steel for custom shapes in-house rather than depending on vendors. This is a game changer because of pricing, lead times, and reliability. No one has our sense of urgency. Before this addition, we spent far too much time chasing vendors for the steel that was holding us up, and our on-time delivery tracking showed it.
We’ve said before and will say again, as an employee-owned company, we are together and individually deeply committed to honoring our promises. We are deeply bothered when we fall short. It shows up as much in our on-time delivery tracking as it does in the pricing we maintain without surcharges.
Call us old-fashioned, but when we make a commitment, from reliability and quality to timing and pricing, you can plan around it. That’s why above the 95% line – as close to perfect as possible – is the only place we’re happy, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get there with respect and integrity.
Here are several related posts and pages that might interest you as you contemplate your application.
- Stepping Up to Reduce Lead Time
- Supply & Demand: Keeping Up with Agile Manufacturing
- On-Time Delivery Average 95 Percent
- Monthly On-Time Delivery Averages