How the University is Navigating the Supply Chain Crisis

supply chain issuesThe University of Houston is not immune to the ongoing worldwide supply chain and inflation challenges, and customer-facing departments have had to pivot and alter how they manage their services. 

The changes these departments have made have resulted from a multitude of events over the past couple of years. 

A nationwide truck driver shortage has increased the time it takes for an item to get from the supplier to the university. More recently, the high diesel costs have impacted the trucking industry, which puts a strain on the shipping industry. 

High shipping costs have increased lead times on orders, which influences a department’s bottom line and the availability of having items on hand for projects, or simply to stock the vending machines in the university. 

The university’s food service program has been dealing with short and substitutes from its suppliers, meaning they don’t send enough product, or it sends a substitute for the out-of-stock product. 

“Notifications of shorts and substitutes are not communicated by the supplier until the morning of the delivery,” said Charles Pereira, vice president of operations for dining services. “These complications impact menu planning, food cost, communication to the customer, and overall guest experience. 

For Facilities/Management Purchasing Operations Manager Rufus Kemp, supply chain issues and increased shipping costs have caused items to rise in price anywhere from 8 to 25 percent. 

How can departments navigate this crisis with higher shipping costs, delays in shipments, a trucker shortage, and out-of-stock items?  

Department leaders in Administration and Finance advise that advance planning, being flexible about options, and patience with service units will be the best way to navigate these challenges.  

Where possible, service units in the division advise adding six-eight weeks to event planning to ensure your goods, such as paper or other supplies, will be available for your event or project. 

Additionally, for service units, it will be important to have service contingency plans, in the event parts may take longer due to shipping challenges. For many Administration and Finance units, the contracts that we have with our business partners will help us to navigate these challenges, however long they are with us.