You’re at a Tuesday morning production meeting. You go in confidently, knowing you have met the date on the new orders and all the products should be on time. There are a few that are running out to 12 weeks, but you have come up with alternate suppliers. Everything looks great. But then it happens:  your Sales Department says that the customer needs all of their product now. You find out the salesperson is only in the meeting because the order is a rush and he/she is doing everything to pull in the dates. Oh, by the way, it’s a $20,000 order!

You sit there quietly, thinking about which electronic components might be a problem. Off the top of your head you know the $80 micro processor is easy to find. You even have some in stock. But then the moment comes when the salesperson turns to you and says “We can get everything in a week, right?”

As a professional you know what to say. “I will check into it.” But in your mind you know that there are parts that will be a problem.

After the meeting you go back to your desk and start looking over the parts list. You should be good with the resistors and caps. The connectors will be close. ICs should be ok. Then it shows its ugly head. The lead time on the TVS is out there… So you start looking. Someone must have stock. First you try your distributors, and then you move on to other sources. Finally you check with brokers, who will look all over the world for you. Nobody has any stock. So you head back to the Engineer to see if there is another option. No luck with the Engineer, and they seem a little upset because you asked…Oh, did I mention the TVS is a 20¢ part?

Now you need to go back and tell Production that the part won’t be in for 6 weeks, even if you Air them in from China. In other words, the $20,000 order is going to be held up for a.20¢ part. And everyone thinks it is your fault. Somehow you need to fix it. Somehow you should have been ready for the change in production schedule (the pull in). The salesperson mumbles something about how you need to have better control of your suppliers…

Sound familiar? I know I have seen this happen all too often. I have even seen a resistor that costs less than a penny cause products from shipping. I call this phenomenon the “Change Gremlin”. It’s like an evil little guy who lurks around, waiting to pounce on your schedules, causing so many problems, and creating strife amongst your sales team, your production team, and worst of all, your customer.  It might even cause you to think you can’t do your job.

Don’t fret!  There are a few options that can help you be better prepared for changes in lead-times and your production schedule. Go ahead and click on the Next Step button below and we will show you how we have helped others better handle all the problems that the Change Gremlin can throw at you.