Building Relationships for Supply Chain Success

Listen to this article

If there is anything that the global pandemic has shown, it is the importance of the manufacturer-supplier relationship. Whether a company makes nitrile gloves or manufactures smartphones or other consumer electronics, that bond between the materials source and the maker is crucial. Making this a high priority can improve the entire process from start to finish.


Vendors may be geographically distant and regular communication may seem like a waste of time, but that is not actually the reality. Just as is the case in personal relationships, regular contact with suppliers – even including some small talk – can help to humanize both parties and might even inspire everyone to treat each other better during difficult negotiations.


Everyone in the electronics manufacturing process is busy, but that is all the more reason to set up a structured time for regular contact with suppliers. Since the parties involved may be quite distant from each other geographically, consider using technology such as video conferencing instead of attempting to plan for a costly and time-intensive face-to-face visit. This is not only efficient but also allows you to see each other, read each other’s body language and begin to develop a bond of trust that will be cemented much more quickly with the addition of these visual cues in real-time.


A supply chain can seem long and impenetrable, with many of the players impossibly remote and difficult to access. With frequent and direct communication, however, all parties can come to see each other as partners who are committed to succeeding at a mutually beneficial mission. Getting and keeping this buy-in from as many links in the supply chain as possible can help to create a collaborative atmosphere that will be much more flexible and resilient in difficult times.


When tensions are high or problems arise between company officials and vendors, it is tempting to put the entire situation on the back burner in hopes that it will somehow resolve itself or disappear. However, taking this laissez-faire tack often leads to simmering resentments and can even result in the loss of contracts. A far better solution is to be as transparent as possible, encouraging vendors to adopt similar practices. When situations come up, address them as quickly and efficiently as possible, making sure to involve the vendor throughout the corrective process. When that team attitude is inculcated into every part of the relationship, it is far easier to weather even the fiercest storms together.

The manufacturing supply chain is an interdependent web of alliances, agreements, protocols and relationships among numerous parties. The more each element in the set is considered and respected, the more efficient the whole process will be. Placing supplier relationships at top of mind is one of the best enhancements that stakeholders can implement.