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November 7, 2022 34 mins
In this podcast we spoke with Derrick Alig, North American Western Regional Sales Manager for PSG Dover Biotech, Chris Couper, President and Founder of Liquidyne Process Technologies, and Phil Sanders Biotech Chief Innovation Officer at Agilitech about current supply chain challenges, possible solutions, what the future holds, and ways to navigate supply chain shortages to ensure manufacturers meet their timelines. Supply Chain Shortages I began the discussion by asking our panel members if they could discuss challenges that their customers are currently having with sourcing single use consumables and technologies. Derek began by discussing the lack of raw materials to make these products, whether it is polymer-based components where lead times have been extended due to lack of raw materials, or other areas such as chips. As a result, customers are having to purchase larger quantities of product in advance, which ultimately leads to even longer lead times. Chris added that from a distribution perspective and an integrator perspective, many of their primary suppliers have had issues. They have also seen that many manufacturers have been able to ramp up their production with plants that were put in place in 2019-2020. However, it takes one to three years depending upon the complexity and the scope work to create additional manufacturing facilities and production lines. In addition, many manufacturers are using alternate materials. While they may have qualified one product in the past, now they are qualifying additional supply chains, so they have a primary supply chain and also secondary and tertiary chains. Phil discussed bringing an agnostic approach to managing supply chain shortages to alleviate some of the issues of having a single source. He also pointed out that sometimes the focus is on single use supply chain issues, but there are companies using reusable equipment that are having some of the same supply chain issues, especially when it comes to these things like chips and control systems. Supply Chain Solutions Next, I asked the panel how their individual companies are approaching these challenges, specifically how they are working with customers to provide solutions for these challenges. Derek explained that at PSG Dover they are committed to providing quality products to customers in the biotech market. They focus on delivery times for customers by adding more shifts to keep up with demand and in late 2021, they added a second validated cleanroom to provide additional production capacities. They have also acquired companies to provide additional capacity. Chris added that the situation could have been much worse if manufacturers had not stepped up and added capacity like PSG Dover and that they have seen improvements in lead times. He added that for Liquidyne they have a minimum of three supply chains for virtually every component that they offer. They let their customers know that they need to qualify the three components so they can be used interchangeably to meet timelines. Phil added that maintaining flexibility is critical. For example, maybe the entire amount of inventory that is needed isn’t available now, but there is enough to get started while orders are placed for the rest of the material. Instead of trying to provide a customer with inventory for an entire year, provide three months' worth, then another three, and so on. Supply Chain in the Future I followed up by asking what they thought the future looks like for the supply chain over the next three to five years. Does this resolve itself or does it shift to another potential supply chain shortage? Derek said that he thinks that customers will continue to require multiple supply chain solutions and suppliers will also need to continue to add multiple sources for their raw materials and electrical components. Chris said that he thinks companies that are successful will take the time to study what has occurred, how they reacted,
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