Making assumptions about lead times can come at a cost.
So here you are, recipe done, packaging done, ingredients identified and tested, shelf life completed, product sold in! You are approaching your first production run with confidence. What could possibly go wrong! …and then you place your ingredient orders, only to be told by a supplier that an ingredient will take twice as long to arrive than you expected. “But I deliberately chose an off the shelf ingredient” you say, “Ah! even those need to be planned into production and have materials sourced” your supplier says.
I have seen this happen time and again. Often, the assumption is that if trial quantities arrived quickly so too will large quantities. Easy mistake to make. Trial quantities are often made on bench or pilot scale (this is a blog in itself) and do not require being scheduled into a busy production plan. Or it could be that you were late signing a contract with a supplier and as a result they had not placed orders for key raw materials. Or maybe some of the materials are seasonal. Or the supplier had mentioned it in an email that was lost in cyber space. There can be a myriad of reasons , but there is only one course of action:
Are you Launch Ready?
Knowing whether you have checked all the necessary boxes before launching your product(s) is vital.
How to avoid Lead Time problems:
- Ask your suppliers (this goes for packaging, too by the way) about their lead times and the ordering process, as soon as an ingredient looks promising.
- Book regular reviews with them at least a couple of months before production, so you keep each other up to date with the project.
- Capture everything in your project timeline.
- Check whether there are any raw materials that the supplier needs to order and have in stock. What is their lead time?
- Have you got dual supply for critical ingredients?
- Above all, dedicate time and energy to develop an open and transparent relationship with your suppliers.