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These are confusing and aggravating times for buyers of manufacturing materials, who say they are bracing for several months of supply and pricing volatility because of the credit crunch. The crunch squeezed business and industry particularly hard early in October, then let up slightly by mid-month. Nevertheless, "the seriousness of the nagging uncertainty and utter lack of confidence regarding the financial system continues," says Kevin Swift, chief economist of the American Chemistry Council in Alexandria, VA.
But, the good news for buyers is that the credit woes are giving them a chance to show the value of supply chain management excellence. Indeed, a recent survey of buyers shows that many in a variety of industries have initiated a series of performance audits and other supplier reevaluations, materials-needs adjustments and purchasing-budget revisions.
Those are just a few of the actions buyers say they can take. They can also use the economic slowdown to better understand how their own practices match recognized best practices, identify and quantify specific financial opportunities and develop plans of action to create near-term wins and strategic transformation, says Robert Rudzki, president of consultant firm GreyBeard Advisors. "Now is not the time to hunker down in a fox hole," he says. "It's time to be proactive."
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