in our industry today is outsourcing. As everybody goes to China for cheaper
labor, inventory levels become much more difficult to maintain reliably.
Instead of producing products in the US on a regular schedule, “manufacturers”
order product produced abroad much less often. This is due to high minimum run
quantities, many times requiring them to order a full container at a time. When
we ask where our order is, the answer we often hear is, "The Product is on
The Water". It can make a distributor crazy.
A delay in shipment or inaccurate forecasting frequently causes times when
products go back ordered. We are rapidly adapting our system to compensate for
increasingly irregular shipments from our suppliers. But no matter how hard we
try, deliveries are getting less predictable and backorders are more frequent.
The problem is only getting worse, and the list of affected product is getting
Once only the highest volume disposables were made in China. Now even the Ferno
KED is made in China. Most disposable emergency medical supplies on the market
today are produced somewhere in Asia. Everything from C-Collars, Bandages,
BVM’s, Electrodes, IV Sets, – all of these items are all made mostly in China.
Not long ago many of our suppliers produced these products on a regular
production schedule. You could predict
delivery times, which allowed you to plan your orders so you would not run out.
Today deliveries from our suppliers can take almost 6 weeks just in transit. There are many new and constantly changing variables like Customs, FDA, Port Delays, all taking a toll on
reliable delivery times.
Remember when Wal-Mart used to advertise Made in America? Those days are long
gone, and Wal-Mart is now selling mainly Chinese Imports. Well, this market
trend has finally hit the EMS Product Industry hard. The consequences are
increasing dependency on foreign suppliers, less predictable delivery, longer
backorders, and more Americans out looking for a decent job.
The smart EMS Operations Manager should take this issue into account when
establishing supply minimums and supply reserves. Those without supply reserves
will sooner or later run out of something they can’t do without – that is still
somewhere off the coast of Shenzhen "On the Water".