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An email to J.B. Smith

J.B. Smith, I think you did an excellent job of recognizing the pitfalls of the production painting project you were contemplating. You understood the potential trap you could find yourself in because that particular supply chain is not designed for supplier success. The problem with today's supply chain management is the crap is being pushed down the supply chain, making it increasingly difficult as a supplier to meet customer demands. Traditionally when Toyota decides on a supplier, they want the supplier to succeed and will work with the supplier to see that they do succeed. When American companies try to use the Toyota manufacturing process, they do not understand the concept of working with their suppliers to see that they succeed in the supply chain. The American philosophy is we selected you as a supplier now succeed or else. Just as companies are looking to find "qualified" suppliers, in my opinion, suppliers should be looking to find "qualified" companies/customers. When I say qualified, is the company willing to work with you as a supplier to succeed and are their vendor contracts so complicated as not to be tenable. I feel like it is better to be a first-tier supplier to a manufacturer than to be a second-tier or third-tier supplier for the very reason communication decreases, and the margins decrease the further you get from the end manufacturer. Part of the crap that I am talking about is a lack of information to do the job properly. As we discussed with PPI not automatically sending print revisions along with a purchase order. (PPI was purchased by AC company) and at the end of our association with the PPI/AC company, purchasing was going to stop putting the material requirements and other necessary information for the supplier on the purchase orders. The reason given was that the materials are listed on the print. This was a false premise in that AC company prints called for Lexan and PPI when it existed as a supplier to AC company substituted Kydex for Lexan on those parts. This practice continued when AC purchased PPI but was never formally stated in paperwork. When the purchasing agent made the change to purchase orders, we, as a supplier, would not have the necessary reliable information to complete the order. A good supply chain customer will make clear what is needed to make parts and will work with you to improve the flow of information. If there is a systemic lack of information passed to suppliers, I would beware of that company. Many times purchasers are using the power of their position to get lazy. A purchasing department that is complaining that they are overwhelmed by managing the supply chain is doing just that managing and not leading from the top down. Suppliers are willing to take on more responsibility provided the flow of information is sufficient, and the relationship is one of teamwork and not an adversarial one.


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