Effective Countermeasures for Machine Tool Supply Chain Disruptions

By Ben Schawe, Vice President of Manufacturing at Mazak

POSTED ON 11/8/2022 – Every business and every consumer can provide their own unique examples of product delivery delays and cancellations resulting from pandemic-bred supply chain interruptions. As a provider of premium machine tools worldwide, Mazak is no exception. In the last two years, the time required to get machine tool parts from Asia to the U.S. has essentially doubled, and the delays do not end when the cargo arrives in this country.

Presently, backups in unloading ships combined with shortages of containers and the wheeled chassis used to transport them by highway are further increasing those delays. For Mazak, various model machines require different components, and maintaining sufficient part inventory for all of them can be a challenge. To overcome these challenges, Mazak has implemented multiple countermeasures to expedite component transportation and, ultimately, machine tool production to successfully meet customer demand.

To counteract the pandemic-driven interruptions of rail transportation, Mazak uses a tactic called diversion. Diversion involves trucking parts directly from the port of entry – typically the West Coast – to its plant in Kentucky. This shortens cross-country travel time from a week to three days.

Another approach is a “less than a container” (LCL) strategy where two smaller loads from different shippers are combined in one container. Yet another traffic-dodging method avoids the West Coast altogether and sends shipments through the Panama Canal to eastern U.S. ports. Extended time on the water is offset by reduced delays at the ports and the shorter highway trip to Mazak’s Kentucky facility.

Read More