28 March 2023

Canberra company opens communication shutters to adapt to supply chain issues

| Dione David
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Monaro Screens employee shows samples to a customer in the showroom

When supply chain trouble hits, Monaro Screens focuses on what matters most. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra’s businesses and consumers are adapting to the widely documented supply chain issues that have plagued commerce over the past two years, according to a local businessman.

Monaro Screens general manager Ben Byatt said while the business ecosystem “hadn’t yet fully recovered” from the impacts, the various touch points along supply chains were taking steps to mitigate the impact on consumers. And consumers in turn were managing their expectations well.

“The single biggest factor was communication across all channels, from suppliers through to customers,” he said.

“We have worked to reach a point with suppliers that they’re keeping us across what stock they have and we get a heads-up when there will be a delay. This allows us to plan in our own operations.

“We find when they communicate with us, we can communicate with the customer in a timely manner and as long as the customer stays informed, they’re very understanding.

“Especially with the Canberra clientele, communication and proactive follow-up on any delays is massively important.”

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Prior to COVID, Monaro Screens provided a conservative estimate of 15 to 20 working days for job completion.

At the height of supply chain issues, depending on the product, lead times could balloon to seven weeks.

The greatest delay on materials was not in the manufacturing, but in the international shipping.

“We went through some sticky situations,” Ben said.

“Demand in the industry skyrocketed, prices went dramatically up and lead times blew out.

“We physically couldn’t lay our hands on the materials needed to build the products we needed to install and unfortunately, customers bore the brunt.

“Nobody was prepared, suppliers least of all and communication fell over… it was a bit of an eye-opener.”

The owners of Monaro Screens in the showroom

Ben Byatt (centre), pictured here with fellow Monaro Screens team members and parents David and Deirdre Byatt, says it might be a while before supply chains revert to pre-COVID levels of stability, but businesses and customers are adapting. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Thankfully things have normalised to a great degree, but Ben does not anticipate supply chains will return to a pre-COVID state any time soon.

He says it’s smarter for businesses, suppliers and consumers to bank on continued delays for a time, and adjust communication accordingly.

“The whole manufacturing game has changed,” he said.

“COVID opened a can of worms and revealed how heavily our industry and similar industries rely on international shipping. Small and medium-sized business are often hinged on other countries to support our operations.

“We’ve accepted nothing will change that in the near future and we need to factor this in to the chaos of running a small business.”

Ben said with the topic of sovereignty on the radar, he hoped the government would implement changes that would help the country’s businesses loosen their reliance on international suppliers.

“The government needs to make changes that encourage more domestic manufacturing,” he said.

“COVID really hammered this home. When our borders shut, our eyes were opened.”

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Alongside delays, Ben said rising costs were another pain point for smaller businesses.

Fortunately the Canberran clientele remained supportive.

“Everyone in our industry is feeling the rising costs facing businesses. Some of our materials have increased by 40 per cent in price,” he said.

“Unlike the big multinational conglomerates that can absorb some of the shock of that, smaller businesses have no option than to pass it on to the consumer or risk going under, as so many have in recent times.

“Canberra is bearing with us through this, though, and we hope they continue to support local.”

Contact Monaro Screens to enquire about its comprehensive range of products.


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