Indication lighting and functional illumination play fundamental roles in the user interfaces for today’s smart devices. It doesn’t matter whether the PCBs, the microcontrollers, the housings, and the LEDs are in inventory. If a fundamental support element like a light pipe is missing, the product is not going to go out the door.

Supply-chain disruption existed prior to the pandemic and promises to persist after the pandemic is over. This situation makes it even more important for manufacturers to concentrate on both increasing supply chain resiliency and boosting their ability to identify and respond to issues before they become problems.

Here, our Bivar team shares key tips for protecting your operations from supply-chain volatility.

1. Get some visibility

The first step in addressing a problem is identifying the problem – preferably in advance. Supply-chain control towers simplify monitoring the entire supply chain, top to bottom.

If external events are coming into play, a good control tower makes it easy to identify the location and status of inventory to best manage the overall process. You can use them to not only track your light pipes supplier but follow the production and shipping of your order.

Meanwhile, AI-based analytics can track leading indicators from a variety of sources to provide early warning – is a developing storm likely to impact an important shipment? Do instabilities in a commodities market mean delays in getting precursor materials?

The more you know in advance, the more effectively you can respond.

2. Know your suppliers – and their suppliers

It’s our philosophy that a supply chain is only as good as its suppliers. Look for established organizations with a track record of success. This is one of the techniques we’ve used to establish a performance record as a reliable engineering partner and supplier of light pipes, LEDs, and more.

When qualifying suppliers, ask about their disaster-preparedness plans. Make sure they're using best practices in their own supply chain—not just multi-sourcing but investigating their sources to understand their disaster-preparedness strategies.

It might seem like a set of nesting dolls but we’ve discovered that this level of visibility is an essential step to ensuring that our supply of light pipes to industry remains unbroken.

3. Stick with stock parts when you can

Using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products when possible will speed the delivery of parts, in good times and bad.

If you’re buying one of our standard rigid light pipes, for example, there is a better chance that our experts can help you find an effective solution from our comprehensive product offering.

For some applications, only custom parts will do but for the rest, standard product options are the best choice.

Bivar is a US-based company that follows best practices for supply-chain management and disaster recovery. Contact us to find out more about the initiatives we have in place to be a trusted partner in your next project.

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