Our three-part supply chain Q&A concludes with insights from Dave Dwyer, VP, supply chain & operations, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America. Dwyer provides an update on the status of Sharp’s backorders, lessons learned dealing with supply chain challenges, and what’s in Sharp’s product pipeline for 2023.
What’s the status of your backorders as we enter March 2023?
Dave Dwyer: Sharp has managed through the most difficult times and kept backorders to a minimum over the last two years. Our most difficult period was coming off the Shanghai COVID shutdown, and only lasted for a few short months in the summer of 2022. However, we quickly rebounded while at the same time managing through a full-line transition to our new BP series MFPs. As we enter the end of the first quarter, we fully expect backorders to remain at a minimum and we will be filling current months’ orders across all hardware and supplies.
What’s the biggest lesson your company has learned from the supply chain disruptions of the past two years?
Dave Dwyer: How delicate the supply chain really is and how any disruption in any piece of the supply chain can cause a ripple effect across the entire ecosystem. It makes sense when you take a step back, but sudden spikes in demand (consumer spending during COVID), followed by component shortages as a result of chip shortages, followed by the zero-tolerance policy in China towards COVID can cause an immediate backlog in factory purchase order fulfillment. Once those factories catch up, shipping capacity constraints and significant spikes in export from origin and import in the US can spike quickly.
The delays we see locally at the port are often highlighted, but what most people do not understand is that the ports can only operate efficiently if the domestic supply chain is operating efficiently. Bottlenecks continually shift to each leg of the supply chain. Sharp made some strategic decisions that paid off and allowed us to maintain a steady flow of inventory despite these challenges. We also believe that transparency to our dealers has proven to be helpful to them.
If you could do anything differently about how your company handled supply chain disruptions and backorders, what would it be?
Dave Dwyer: Honestly, Sharp overall is pleased with how we handled the supply chain disruptions. One lesson learned would be how we fulfill the allocation of inventory and how that impacts our dealers’ ability to install and invoice their clients. We were very focused on filling our backorders by model. As containers arrived, we would fair-share allocate at the model level. Key options were arriving on different schedules than hardware, making it difficult to fill orders completely. We learned some valuable lessons about timing of deliveries when it comes to aligning options, supplies and machine mainframes.
With the supply chain flowing again, what products are in the pipeline for the next few months that will excite your dealers?
Dave Dwyer: A point Sharp would like to reiterate is that we launched a full new line of A3 hardware, options, and supplies this past year during these supply chain disruptions. Additionally, Sharp integrated the NEC Display business into its operations within the last year, expanding our display offering available to our dealers. We have plans this year for exciting new products at both ends of our lineup including A4 products to even better complement our A3 line up – with similar feature sets to current A3 models.
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