Recently, Elasto Proxy visited customers in Alberta, Canada. Our travels to Calgary and Red Deer took us to manufacturers of vacuum trucks, recreational trailers, and heavy equipment, all of which use our industrial rubber products. Roberto Naccarato, Sales and Marketing Manager from our Montreal-area headquarters, was joined by Jenny-Lynn Paterson, Solutions Provider from our Toronto-area branch, on this trip to Canada’s second westernmost province. The weather there was rainy, but the future is bright.
The manufacturers that Rob and Jenny-Lynn met with are not without challenges, of course. Like many other companies, they’re concerned about the shortage of skilled workers and ongoing supply chain constraints. Yet, these companies aren’t concerned about their long-term prospects, and they have the sales forecasts to prove it. Whether they’re building equipment for customers in Canada, the United States, or beyond, the world needs what they’re making – and the orders keep coming in.
Together, dedicated personnel from Engineering, Purchasing, and Operations are all making it happen. Here’s some of what Elasto Proxy learned, and we hope that it can also benefit your business.
Before traveling to Alberta, Elasto Proxy shipped our customers sample kits with representative parts. We gladly share these collections of components because there’s nothing like being able to hold parts in your hands. That’s especially important with rubber since, as some of the engineers we met with explained, elastomers aren’t covered extensively in school. There are exceptions to this, of course, such as in the rubber belt that’s centered around Ohio and Quebec’s Elastomer Valley, or La Vallée des élastomères.
At the companies we visited, the engineers liked how the mitered corners on our finished gaskets eliminate room for leakage. Elasto Proxy can supply manufacturers with coils of rubber for in-house fabrication but getting a finished gasket from us can reduce hassles (such as product returns) and optimize sealing. Some engineers were interested to learn that they could substitute bulb trim seals for an adhesive-backed D-shape. Elasto Proxy keeps hundreds of profiles in stock, and we’re ready to ship them.
During our discussions with purchasing personnel, we heard repeatedly the importance of vendor transparency. Customers want to know what’s available, when they can get it, and how much it’s going to cost – without surprises that could result in production delays. Sharing your forecast with Elasto Proxy, we explained, helps to reduce supply chain risks and costs. Regular communications are important as well, and our customers were impressed by our extra effort to visit them.
Because of ongoing supply chain concerns, the manufacturers we met with are buying more safety stock and increasing the size of their orders, especially for parts that sustain production. Door and window gaskets might not seem critical, but you can’t finish an assembly and relieve work-in-process inventory without them. Some purchasing personnel knew all of the part numbers, but we were especially impressed by a manager who knew where every rubber part was installed on a build.
After all of the COVID-related restrictions, it felt good to walk the floors of various factories. It was also helpful to see installation issues not on a Zoom call or via video, but up-close and in-person. Although a cell phone camera can allow us to see an application from afar, there’s no substitute for seeing what gasket compression looks like from the inside of a cab. Videos are valuable, of course, but it can be challenging to diagnose problems without points of reference such as a cab body or door frame.
The Operations personnel that we met with were especially interested in installation best practices, so we gladly shared what we knew. During our various meetings with plant personnel, it was especially helpful to have Operations included alongside Engineering and Purchasing. By getting everyone in the same room at the same time, it’s easier to resolve issues on the spot instead of having to defer them because all of the expertise that’s needed isn’t there.
Alberta, Abrasive Water Jet Cutting, and Added-Value Services
Everyone seemed interested to learn that Elasto Proxy now offers abrasive water jet cutting services for harder materials like metal, glass, and Kevlar. Parts kitting was also a popular topic, but we recognize that manufacturers must first examine their production lines to determine which parts they can kit. A study like that may slow production temporarily but the end result is greater operational efficiency. What forward-thinking companies realize, we explained, is that the price of an individual part isn’t its true cost.
Kitting helps to reduce costs because manufacturers can combine multiple stocking units, or SKUs, into a single one. Kitting also saves time and money through vendor consolidation. As Elasto Proxy explained, a kit that contains five or six parts from just one vendor requires just one purchase order, just one receiving document, and just one invoice. There’s only one vendor scorecard to manage, too. Elasto Proxy’s warehousing services were also popular since it’s better to use floor space for production than safety stock.
Are you looking for ways to promote efficiency, reduce manufacturing waste, and get the industrial rubber products that you need during this time of supply chain uncertainty? Elasto Proxy is ready to help, and team members like Roberto Naccarato and Jenny-Lynn Paterson would welcome your call.