Collective approach

By Giovanni Laporta, Smart Ready.

The fenestration industry has seen an enormous increase in sales over the last nine months and I believe this puts it in a strong position to welcome and embrace change as we continue into 2021.

For that change to benefit the industry as a whole, we must widen our consideration to include the other businesses in the industry rather than focusing just on ourselves.

The businesses that make up a supply chain are not singular entities. Rather, they are part of an ecosystem that supports and is supported by the other businesses above and below them. It makes sense that decisions are made that strengthens these connections rather than adding undue strain.

Freighting components and raw materials into the UK from China and the far east has gone up nearly 270%, and when sea freighting isn’t available, the price of air freighting is exorbitant. These panic-driven decisions are not sustainable.

These supply issues are not permanent, and we will be able to go back to meeting our usual lead times at some point in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, there is a quick fix that will ease the pressure we are all under: lengthening lead times across the industry.

Increasing lead times is a way that we as individual businesses can offer breathing space to both ourselves and the other businesses in the industry. If we extend delivery times, we would be avoiding the current feast or famine situation that we’re all in now. When materials arrive, there is a glut of fulfilled orders but when supply slows, businesses are back to not being able to deliver. This yo-yoing is frustrating for everyone in the supply chain and is especially exasperating for our ultimate customers who have been assured of delivery times and are bored with hearing about Covid-related delays.

The cost of buying raw materials from Asia is going to increase and it will inevitably be in a permanent way. We don’t need to hamstring the industry by overspending on the delivery of these goods at their current prices. Bring lead times up to two weeks (or longer) across the board so that we all know where we stand without the stress of failing to meet deadlines.

I know we can, and we will all get through this by working collectively and collaboratively. Ultimately, by doing this, our industry will come out stronger and more resilient.