Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

88 Proactive communication between supply chain partners is crucial to ensure that products are manufactured and delivered on time I NT E R V I EW Surmounting supply chain challenges AVIXA’s Sean Wargo explains why improving communication will be pivotal for resolving the supply chain issues facing the global audiovisual industry During the pandemic, lockdowns, travel restrictions and physical distancing regulations forced factories to shut down or operate with skeleton staff, some businesses were compelled to lay off employees to bring costs down and remain operational, deliveries were delayed due to issues at logistics firms, and more. At the same time, there was a surge in demand for chips around the world, creating the perfect storm that decimated the pro audiovisual (AV) supply chain. Three years on and the situation is abating somewhat now that most restrictions have been removed and suppliers and manufacturers slowly build their inventories back up. However, monthly surveys conducted by AV trade association AVIXA show that the supply chain is still the biggest industry challenge. “It’s been a difficult few years, supply chain constraints are ongoing and some businesses are still reporting more than a year’s worth of delays,” says Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence for AVIXA. “The AV industry has been implementing an evolving set of strategies to help mitigate the supply chain challenges. Initially, businesses were focused on price points and passing along the price increases just to help lock in a specific supply. Now the pervading strategy seems to be for suppliers to find out what clients need and place orders for raw materials as early as possible, establish a realistic timeline and communicate this to clients.” This has been one of the positive outcomes of the supply chain delays, claims Wargo. “Currently, demand has slowed down a little, allowing suppliers to catch up and consult with clients to properly address needs,” he explains. “This more consultative relationship is where the AV industry has always wanted to be, but we’ve struggled to get there before now.” According to Wargo, it is essential for those in the AV supply chain to ensure clear, transparent and honest communication about everything from shortages of raw materials to delays in production schedules, component substitutions, changes to the original project, product unavailability and late deliveries to the customer. “One tiny issue at any point along the supply chain can have a significant knock-on effect elsewhere, so it’s vital that partners at every level of the chain proactively communicate with one another to ensure that everyone is fully aware of what is happening at all times,” says Wargo. “It’s crucial that partners are open and honest about the specific challenges they’re facing – and set realistic expectations about when they will be resolved. “Communicating these types of issues as early as possible enables supply chain partners to discuss potential contingency plans and BY R E B E CCA G I B SON “ There’s never been a better time for supply chain partners to unite and solve these issues together”