Social, political and health crisis has lead to a global supply chain crisis for industries. As a result, it caused operational limitations for a number of local embroidery businesses to meet consumer demands. As a safety measure, industries have started greeting accustomed to less-than-ideal supply and operational working conditions.
Able to identify & work with regular supply substitutes is the key to overcome supply chain crisis.
Be it packaged food items, toilet paper, or medicines, crisis has not only touched these but also the embroidery industry. Therefore, it is high time that you need to plan ahead of situation if it gets worse.
The Embroidery Business Crisis Explained:
Mostly, the print businesses like embroidery rely on domestic supplies for production. In the absence of which, affected the delivery times of orders. From backings, thread, hoops to bobbins, poor supply impacted all levels of the embroidery industry. As a result, decorators looked over the internet in search of alternate sources to keep their production running. Thus, it grew the demand for imported products. But that too brought in numerous challenges.
1. Product Quality:
The first challenge was product quality. Outsourcing from lesser-known suppliers affected product quality. Thus, some of the savvy businesses brought small quantities for testing, to order in bulk if found ok. High-quality product outsourced overseas may act like a target-in-the-dark approach that affects embroidery prints. While the less-experienced ones stock piled inferiors supplies.
Moreover, a few decorators in the United States began facing challenges in availability, high prices, labor shortages, etc. thus, they preferred outsourcing finished products overseas.
2. Outsourcing finished products overseas:
As a precautionary measure, these decorators used to send work samples to some of the reliable distributors. Using these sample work, the distributors would carry a confidential testing done at the overseas production site. When results were found favorable, these products were imported.
Thus, all these measures helped the supplies flowing without affecting the delivery at the customer side.
When supplies and production issues were dealt with difficulties, transportation expenses began rising. The dramatic increase in shipping costs rose to more than 10 times the cost of previous year.
Added to the expenses misery, it resulted in longer delivery times. While on the higher side, hundreds of cargo ships waiting for their turn to be loaded on the major US ports, thus estimated delivery period turned into best guesses due to unpredictable shipping times.
4. No price increase:
When all the pain was borne by embroidery businesses, and no shifting onto customers, the price on the final side remained stable. Because, sellers predicted the situation to be temporary and some decided to pass on a portion of increased production and transportation costs onto customers. Moreover, delivery times extending three to four months were the new normal.
Top 06 Important Tips to Protect Embroidery Business From Supply Chain Crisis:
Stocking up before the storm was a supply shortage strategy adopted by most embroiders. When everyday supplies became a challenge, some product decorators stock up essential supplies before the actual crisis.
Fortunately, embroidery supplies does not have a self life. So, stocking up for a long time is a good strategy. In fact, the essentials like thread and bobbins are at the top.
Here will be discussing the working tips and methods that we analyzed, learnt and strategized from the supply shortages to prepare for the future. Easily meeting deadlines, thus maintaining the product quality and service during supply chain crisis.
1. Selection of thread:
Thread comes in thousands of color variants. You may count on to thickness, but colors seem to be endless. Being the most varied aspect in embroidery, it becomes challenging to find the exact one you need based on thickness, length, and most importantly color.
You may find top thread suppliers having hundreds of color options and many just a half-a-shade apart from another in the assortment. Thus, you need to keep a high stock of those thread varieties that are mostly used in the embroidery. Most essential of them are black and white threads.
During crisis, you find a particular shade is out of stock, you may consult your customer to ask about the close match to preferred color if not available.
You may maintain a thread chart to monitor the accurate color matching. Check out close matches from other brands on your thread chart.
We learnt from the crisis is that bobbins were subjected to the most acute shortages.
As we know that, embroidery machine operators are very particular about supplies. The one that is most frequently used, the most essential item required for every stich is bobbin.
There are various bobbin types and styles. Therefore, testing is the primary method to figure out and evaluate, which bobbin type favors you the most.
Besides stitch quality, the yield factor is determined by the bobbin type, which varies based on yarn type and bobbin style.
For instance, if you are using paper-side bobbins, you may try on side less bobbins as a substitute and you may experience a better yield. There reason behind is that, side less bobbins are widely available, even it help you stock up at the time of crisis.
There is another method too. You may apply it during the extreme crisis. And that involves creating you own bobbins by winding thread. It may result in fewer yards per bobbin to that of the commercially available counterparts, you may replace the metal bobbins after steady use.
3. A Substitute to Backing:
Backing is trickier. Because you may need a lot of testing to get the right one for your job.
In fact, you may have experienced that a several backing types can accomplish similar results for embroidery on most fabric types. Thus, we may conclude that, substitution works in backing.
When you get almost similar results with a variety of backing, substitutions can be applied easily.
So the question is, how to substitute backing in embroidery?
In the print job, we normally use single-layer of medium-weight tearaway. What if you apply two-layers of light weight tearaway. Will it give the same results as that of the medium weight ones?
These substitutions may get more complicated, and should be tried out as a test to prepare for the crisis ahead. Because we must not forget that the challenges might pause for some time, but likely to aggravate anytime soon.
There may be a substitution to specialty woven cutaway used with moisture wicking fabrics.
Thus, testing with substitutes or alternatives is the key to prepare for crisis or unexpected downtimes. That not only increases your longevity but also meet your purpose at a substantial price.
The least expensive and yet the core player in embroidery is needle. Yet, many shops experience an inadequate supply of needles. Therefore, keeping supply crisis into consideration, it is smart to keep adequate number and varieties of needles based on point types and blade sizes. Even though you won’t need them on daily basis.
As a result, when you receive an order with unusual stich requirements, you would be ready with your supplies. To conclude, needles are inexpensive and it is wise to keep stock of different types of needles in place.
Generally, print shops keep two sizes of hoops. One is normally used on the machine while the other being loaded with the garment for the next run.
But I recommend you to have at-least three frequently used hoop sizes. Because, if you have three hoops, and one gets damaged, the machine must not wait for the remaining one to be rehooped. To conclude, extending to multiple hoop varieties eliminate the delay in production process.
Job market is becoming very lucrative. Even rising expenses puts a cap on overheads in terms of increasing employee base and ultimately on salary. Therefore, it is high-time to cross-train your existing team on additional operations and skill.
During crisis, there is high-possibility of difficulty in paying wages and ultimately labor shortages. Having a team that is skilled enough to handle tasks and ensure optimized production process resulting in high-quality products into your customers hand.
We have also found that major industries have started planning and upskilling their existing resources to manage workflows, keep supplies flowing, production and embroidery machines running with no downtimes.
As we talked about substitutes above, manufactures have also taken a sustainable turn by developing the thread products from recyclable materials. Thus, it keeps print businesses confident and remain optimistic with supplies, production, and most importantly no reason to panic. Therefore, prepare today to prepare for any scenario resulting from the future events.
Thus we conclude that, whether we have a crisis or not, testing with substitutions keeps us resilient and sustainable against downtimes, labor shortages, rising prices, and unfavorable circumstances which affects our business workflow and ultimately sales.