By Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

The month of March…Yes! There is so much good stuff to look forward to this month including the regular annual happenings of the first day of spring, March Madness, and St. Patrick’s Day, and this year, Easter falling on the last day of the month. But let’s not get out there too far too fast and pause to draw attention to another special recognition this month.

Each year since 2014, March has been recognized nationally as Supply Management Month. According to National Day, the aim of celebrating this month is to appreciate the sophistication displayed by procurement professionals in sourcing all materials needed in manufacturing and the consumption of goods and services we need. We praise these supply chain management professionals who work hard to identify the best possible sources of goods needed and to procure items that are the most cost effective. They play a key role in the success of their companies.

Some reading this article may be viewing supply chains from a consumer perspective – recalling challenges and frustrations when products desired were not readily available or had very long lead times. I suspect most reading this article are in manufacturing and thus view supply chains from a customer perspective – looking at relationships with key suppliers or from a supplier perspective – looking to serve customers, or both. You may be thinking (or should be thinking) about being part of a potentially new supply chain that could lead to significant and more profitable growth.

Historically, the scrutiny on supply chains has fluctuated. Just think about the last several years, before March 2020 (start of the pandemic) and the two years that followed. Here at NWIRC, although we have been a resource addressing manufacturers’ supply chain needs and opportunities for many years, never to the extent we are experiencing today. Let me share just a few examples. NWIRC is currently working with two manufacturing companies with supply chain needs that, if met, could move production currently in China to Pennsylvania driving business growth for small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs), and creating hundreds of new jobs.

Through a Supply Chain Optimization & Intelligence Network (SCOIN) statewide initiative, NWIRC offers a Supply Chain 101 series at no-cost to PA manufacturers. This live, virtual series provides ‘must have’ processes for successful execution of inventory & supply chain management and practices to link them to a company’s strategic, operating, and tactical plans. As part of the SCOIN initiative, we will be facilitating supply chain relationships between PA-based OEMs and qualified SMMs. Through our Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network Supplier Scouting initiative, we continue to connect manufacturers who are looking for a supplier or have the need to identify a supplier. Through the ARC ARISE grant program, featured in my article last month, NWIRC can help manufacturers evaluate and enter the new energy economy supply chains. Stay tuned for much more to come! We expect market demand for our supply chain resources and our high-value offerings to grow.