Allied New Building

Allied Electronics Executive Perspectives

June 23, 2020
SourceToday chats with Cameron Ward, senior vice president of the RS Components Americas business.

1. Do you see the Coronavirus impacting your business?
Like almost every other business on the planet, we‘ve been impacted by COVID-19, and certain segments have been hit much harder than others. As a strategic supplier supporting a wide range of companies across so many markets – many of which like food & beverage, healthcare, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals have been essential throughout the pandemic – we’ve been able to navigate these uncertain times with some resiliency.  Most importantly, we’ve been able to keep our employees safe and healthy while helping our customers maintain the integrity of their supply chains, restart their onsite operations as the pandemic subsides, protect their workforces and continue to enable innovation from the global design and engineering community.

2. How do you see the Coronavirus impacting the industry?
There are so many areas where COVID-19 is going to impact the industry.  There will certainly be negative impacts due to the global economic slowdown that’s accompanied the pandemic, but I think there will also be some positive evolutions and disruptions that come from this crisis.  First, the importance of companies having strong digital platforms and capabilities will greatly accelerate.  Coming into the COVID-19 situation, I think there were quite a few companies that saw digital transformation as a nice to have or even a “necessary evil,” but looking at who’s been able to weather the COVID-19 storm, it is now more clear than ever that digital is a massive differentiator for growth and mitigator for risks from disruption.  Secondly, supply chain continuity will face more scrutiny than ever – as many companies saw what they believed to be rock solid supply chains break down in the presence of such an unprecedented situation.  Validation, redundancy, and optionality in supply chains through value-added services for all industries will ultimately become some of the most important differentiators among suppliers, distributors, and partners.

3. How are you handling Supply Chain Risk?
Operating as an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis has had some unprecedented challenges, but as a global company with product and supply chain teams and distribution centers in North America, Europe, and the Asia/Pacific region, we have been able to leverage our excellent regional and global relationships with our franchised suppliers and partners to position the right products in the regions where we saw the greatest demand.  Beyond geographic diversity and inventory logistics, we also feel like our digital capabilities and our strong relationships helped, and continue to help us, deal with both incoming and outgoing supply chain risks fairly well.  Having the data and analytics capabilities to look below the surface at both supply and demand trends for key products helped us to make sure we had the right type of inventory in the right places.  And there is no replacement for strong customer and supplier relationships.  With more than 450 world-class suppliers, many of whom we have been working closely with for a long time, we were able to stay very well connected with them on production and logistics, which in turn allowed us to better inform and assist our thousands of customers in terms of supply chain expectations.

4. How is the labor crisis impacting your company?
We have not seen much impact in terms of staffing or labor.  By ensuring the safety and sanitation of our workplaces, as well as having those who could do so work remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, I think we sent a strong message to our employees about our values and priorities and that’s helped us ensure we have all the staff we’ve needed to fill our orders.  On top of that, we are in the process of opening a new 200,000 square-foot expansion of our distribution center in Fort Worth that incorporates some of the most cutting edge warehousing, packing, and shipping automation available in the world today. That will provide more opportunities for our suppliers, faster and more accurate order processing for our customers, and a whole new set of digital workplace skills and training for our employees.  With high-density storage and robotic retrieval, our distribution center will ultimately accommodate up to 800,000 new SKUs, providing plenty of room to continue to expand into the future.

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