Supply chain management during COVID-19

At FermionX, we like many other businesses in the UK, had to adapt quickly to the restrictions put in place to help combat the COVID-19 crisis. Strength in supply chain management during COVID-19 hasn’t been easy. We’ve worked hard to ensure business continuity and minimise component shortages, further supporting our customer production.

We spoke to our Senior Buyer, Sheena Taylor to understand the difficulties faced in supply chain management during COVID-19.

How has your department been affected by the new ways of working?

I’ve been very lucky that Katy our Purchasing Assistant has worked right through the pandemic. I’m fortunate that she has picked up the brunt of everything whilst I was on Furlough.

At FermionX our working practice has always been flexible, but with the majority of people either working from home or on furlough, we are helping out in departments we wouldn’t usually, so things certainly feel a lot busier.

What are the biggest challenges facing supply chain management during COVID-19 and what is in place to overcome them?

Very early on when China went into lock-down straight after their New Year, we were hit hard with very long delays, especially on bare PCB’s. This was difficult as there was so much unknown at that time – we couldn’t give an accurate timeline to our customers for certain components and were then in regular contact with them to keep them updated.

We have a wide variety of suppliers, who manufacture in the UK and Taiwan so when faced with issues in the supply of components, we were able to offer our customers an alternative solution.
Communication with our suppliers in the UK, once we went into lock-down also proved to be difficult, again as many people were furloughed/working from home. It was hard to get answers to queries, and this caused further delays with the supply chain.

How do you manage your work/home-life balance now?

I’ll come back to you when I work that out! Joking aside, it isn’t easy at the moment with things so up in the air and you’re trying to keep all our customers happy.

I find writing lists is the best way for me. So if something does occur to me when I’m at home, I don’t stew on it, I just jot it down and can tackle it when I’m next at my desk.

What learning will you take forward with you?

No amount of planning can prepare you for something like a pandemic, but working closely with your team (well not too close… a 2m distance) and your trusted suppliers there’s always a way to get the best result for us, them and our customers.

Finally, if you could sum up the impact of COVID19 on your role in 5 words, what would they be?

Where did 2020 disappear to?

Sheena has been with FermionX for 9 years. Having started in an admin role and working her way up through the ranks to Senior Buyer. Responsible for managing our supply chain, Sheena ensures that we have the components needed to build our customer’s products on time and on budget.

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