‘Despite long lead times, our production has not stood still for a moment’

‘Despite long lead times, our production has not stood still for a moment’

Pieter Rauwerda (28) Supply Chain Manager at VDH Products

Not an easy job

‘At VDH, I head up the logistics departments, i.e. procurement, the warehouse, and dispatch. One of the most important tasks for our department is to get all the materials needed for production to the plant in time, and that while keeping our stock in check. I do this together with our buyer Laurens Luijckx and our work planner Wiebe Hut. Logistics is always a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, and the current long lead times haven’t exactly made things easier for us.’

Gigantic lead times

‘Before the pandemic, lead times of 6 weeks were considered long. Today, however, the chips for our control hardware have a lead time of between 52 and 86 weeks. When these supply issues started, there was great uncertainty over lead times. Since they are starting to stabilise now, we can adapt our ordering as best as possible by taking a smart approach. While the situation is far from ideal, we try to make the best of it by harnessing the data available in our ERP system.’

Predictive ordering

‘We make our ERP system work for us to the maximum degree possible. Special reporting software allows us to extract in a clearly organised way all the data we have collected on all the components over the past 13 years. Though it’s by no means a crystal ball, this information does give us a good idea of the estimated needs for the coming one to two years. Based on the data, we can also enter into long-term agreements with our suppliers to make sure we always have the critical components in stock.’

Equivalent alternatives

‘Ordering based on extrapolation from past production figures will always be an educated guess. We have coped with all the supply difficulties very well over the past two years; we are only sporadically short of parts. Luckily, our R&D department often comes up trumps with a solution in those situations. Thanks to the great depth of their expertise, they can quickly find an equivalent alternative component, so that our production can keep going without interruption.’

Framework agreement

‘And the good relationship we have with our customers is also a great help in these kinds of situations. We enter into framework agreements with customers who regularly place large orders, so that we can plan ahead. They get supply reliability, and we can confidently place orders with our suppliers.’

What we get out of the VDH culture

‘Despite all the changes during the pandemic, our operations never ground to a halt over the past years. The company’s culture was a key factor in that respect. What I appreciate about this company is how easily people communicate with each other. Everyone just goes over to talk to each other, which means you have short lines of communication. The ‘old guard’ contribute their knowledge and experience, and the ‘young guard’ contribute new insights and passion. Everyone feels jointly responsible for our customers. Everyone is really of use to each other here.’