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This article is sponsored by Würth Industry North Americaa global supply chain solutions provider that offers inventory management, engineering, quality control, industrial distribution, additive manufacturing, and more.
International supply chain issues have been a hot topic lately, given pandemic-induced labor shortages, material shortages, extended delivery times, higher prices and demand. skyrocketing consumers. It is now more important than ever for companies to partner with reliable suppliers around the world to meet the needs of their customers.
Würth Industry North America is no stranger to supply chain solutions. Since its inception in 1945, the Germany-based company has grown its presence and services to become a $20 billion international company. In addition to its core product offering of fasteners and assembly components, MRO supplies, safety and PPE, Würth provides data-driven supply chain solutions to its global customer base.
Dan Barriere, vice president of sales, Würth Industrial Division, a division of Würth Industry North America, has been with the company for 18 years and attributes its success to its people. “Having the right people and the right culture means we provide our clients with the technical expertise, program management and data analytics that are central to our desire to make tomorrow better than today. “, says Barriere.
Get to know Würth
- In 1945 Würth began as a father-son business selling fasteners during the post-WWII manufacturing boom.
- Today, Würth remains a privately owned family business and employs over 85,000 employees in over 80 countries.
- The company’s supply chain service offerings include inventory management, technical support, quality control, kitting and assembly, industrial sales, 3D printing, third-party logistics ( 3PL) and SafetyCheck programs.
Thomas Insights (TI): How are issues like relocation and labor shortages impacting your business?
Dan Barrier (DB): We’ve talked a lot to our customers about the offshoring trend, where companies are bringing manufacturing operations back to the United States. The truth is that there is not a lot of capacity in the United States. While we find domestic sources, we advise our customers that they still need to diversify across multiple vendors to stay flexible as supply chains continue to fluctuate. At the same time, we continue to build strategic partnerships that can help serve our customers wherever they are in the world.
Labor shortages also affect our clients, which is why we provide them with expertise and resources that enable them to maximize their workforce. In addition to connecting them with reputable vendors, we also act as consultants when they have unique issues that require creative solutions. This is how we not only become a true partner but also an extension of their business.
TI: How does Würth Industry North America ensure that there are no shortages of parts and that they can continue to produce?
comics: We have Account Managers assigned to each of our customers, and for larger customers we also have Factory Inventory Managers connected to people on the production lines, such as Manufacturing Managers and Materials Managers. This allows us to quickly pivot whenever a shift is added or a row is changed.
Staying closely connected to customers at the factory level is as important as product engineering. If our customers have a new product line, we are always working to see if the design can use components that are already in existing units. This keeps production as smooth and efficient as possible.
Our data collection and analysis, forecasting and CPS (C-Parts Solutions) capabilities are also key to answering this question. But sometimes the data doesn’t match and there are unpredictable variables. For example, there may be new employees on the line who deviate from the BOM and use other products for assembly. We adapt to these challenges and keep our customers informed so that we can make perfect decisions based on imperfect information.
TI: How has video helped Würth strengthen its relationship with its customers?
comics: During the pandemic, we launched our Würth Knowing series on YouTube to connect with our customers when we couldn’t meet in person. In these videos, we share technical knowledge on fasteners and various engineering topics, which are core to our value proposition. It’s a chance to help customers solve their existing challenges right from the start.
All of the services we provide to our customers come from our employees. We believe that taking care of our employees enables them to thrive in their role and provide innovative solutions. With every facility we visit, our goal has always been to build strong relationships with our customers as their supply chain partners.
Our founder, Reinhold Würth, retired in 1994, but is still chairman of the company’s supervisory board. In his speeches to senior management, he always says to treat people with kindness and humility, and we take that to heart here at Würth.
TI: Can you share some success stories where your services have helped your clients?
comics: As a supply chain partner, we provide solutions and information to help customers make the best decisions for their business. We had a client who was looking for help improving their Engineering Change Notice (ECN) process. Our recommendation was to include a review by Würth of all fixings and hardware to ensure we could offer the most cost effective solution. On their ECN, they actually added a checkbox that said, “Has Würth approved of this change?” This shows that they trust our expertise, even if they end up deciding against our recommendation. They do it with complete information.
With recent supply chain issues, we also had to get creative. We’ve helped customers rethink proprietary or controlled-source products because the supplier doesn’t always have what you want when you need it. Especially as costs rise, we have moved our customers further and further away from exclusive sources and connected them with Würth-approved suppliers who offer the same level of quality.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Würth Industry North America