Before World World II, homes were commonly heated with coal, which strained walls. A soap manufacturer created a popular doughy cleaner that rubbed off soot. However, as homes transitioned to natural gas, the soap manufacturer faced bankruptcy – that is, until they decided to repackage and market their product as a children’s toy. They called it Play-Doh. VMC Supply Chain Manager Tammy Walker says that sort of ingenuity will keep a supply chain running smoothly.
A foremost concern for a supply chain management team is staying up to speed to ensure a chain flows optimally. Thus, there’s constant training for supply managers to go through so they can keep abreast of industry trends, which I enjoy as the work stays exciting and interesting. It’s pivotal to build a team that wants to change, learn, and grow, as it helps keep the team aware of all the minute things that flow down the pipe.
Of all things, ingenuity and creativity are traits that all good supply chain managers should have. On the job, I often encounter situations that are without precedence so there’s no manual to refer to in order to fix problems. In those moments, inventiveness within the team typically saves the day.
The industry rapidly changes due to technological advances. Just four years ago, individual servers were common. About 25 of them would arrive, stacked up. They were grouped in small 50-pound portable pieces. These days, however, pre-rack servers are common; these weigh 2,000-3,000 pounds. These things are tough to get off the truck, so it’s important to be cognizant of the weight and organized in moving these items so that there is little chance of someone getting hurt – not to mention it’s very expensive if something were to happen to the pre-rack servers.
In one instance, those who ordered the pre-rack didn’t think about the impact to the floor. Raised panel data center flooring was designed to hold only a couple hundred pounds, not a few thousand. There were clearance issues, too, as rack is tall and the floor is elevated. Our team discussed and worked out the issue with the data center’s facilities team. The floor was reinforced with plywood, laid over the panels, and we were able to roll the pre-rack in. This kind of unexpected scenario is fairly common and figuring out a solution keeps us on our toes.
The ability to think quick on one’s feet helps mitigate unexpected costs on the job. What are you currently doing to make sure your supply chain managers are the ones who can solve unexpected problems?
Contact Tammy Walker at TammyW@vmc.com or 877.393.8622. Go here for more posts on supply chain management.