COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the global supply chain since the virus emerged late last year. In China, an early manufacturing shutdown prompted businesses around the world to look for other suppliers to try to keep their products moving and continue to meet demand.
All these months later, much of China’s manufacturing sector is back up and running. In the packaging industry, most bulk bag suppliers in China have returned to their pre-pandemic outputs; however, lead times are still longer than usual.
If your company requires bulk bags for its shipping and storage needs, you’ll need to carefully plan ahead to account for all the challenges that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tips for Buying Bulk Bags During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Although we’re all hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, the supply chain is still experiencing occasional challenges and delays. As you plan your bulk bag purchases for 2021, be sure to keep these tips in mind to make the process as seamless as possible:
Be prepared for longer lead times
In normal times, most bulk bag customers are accustomed to twelve-week lead times, but those are running longer right now. In many cases, lead times are now closer to eighteen weeks*. That is the result of several factors, including reduced shipping lane capacity, container shortages, and—on the domestic side—a shortage of truck drivers, which has long been a challenge for the U.S. supply chain.
We recommend that buyers begin their bulk bag search at least five months before they need the bags. And remember to stay flexible: Demand is fluctuating significantly, so lead times could still increase at any time.
*Current conditions highlighted in this article may improve or worsen after this article's date of publication. Please communicate with your supplier for up-to-date industry conditions if you have concerns about your lead times.
Increase the amount of stock you hold in inventory
Because there is still so much uncertainty in the supply chain—and because we still don’t know when the pandemic will be over—it’s a good idea to start holding more stock in inventory. Conitex Sonoco helps facilitate this by providing warehousing options for our customers.
Ensure your bulk bag supplier has the right team in place
Now more than ever, it’s important to partner with a bulk bag supplier that has a reliable team of experts, including material science engineers who are focused on quality and consistency and a strong sourcing team that communicates daily with their suppliers. Work with a company you trust, with a team that can help catch any issues before your orders are placed.
This is especially true now, when bulk bag vendors are often having to rely on suppliers from various global locations. If your partner’s engineers can spot issues on the front end, it can save you weeks or even months.
At Conitex Sonoco, our team of material science engineers is able to make adjustments to orders as needed. For example, if we don’t have the exact bulk bags a customer needs, our team can easily find substitutes that will fit their application.
Unique to Conitex Sonoco, we have our own sourcing team in the various regions where we source our bulk bags, as well as domestically. Therefore, our international supply partners work with someone they’ve met in person, who speaks their language, and is available during their business day to field questions.
Work closely with your bulk bag supplier
Now more than ever, communication is key. Remember to order as early as possible and provide as much information as you can to help the ordering process go smoothly. Try to provide a realistic projection of what you need. The more information you can provide, the more your bulk bag supplier can do to meet your needs as the situation continues to evolve.
Serving Our Customers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Even through the worst of the pandemic, Conitex Sonoco has been able to continue serving our customers. How have we managed to do that?
First of all, when necessary, we can rely on secondary bulk bag suppliers, which we can qualify quickly about 99 percent of the time. We use suppliers in various domestic and global locations so we can continue to meet demand, even as it fluctuates. Meanwhile, because we hold a certain number of bulk bags in stock at all times, we’ve been able to meet most customers’ needs, even at the height of the supply chain disruption.
Currently, our production is at around 85 percent of its normal rate. Our team is working hard to meet ongoing demand, particularly from customers in industries that have actually grown during the pandemic, such as homebuilders, home project-related companies, fertilizer companies, and any customer that deals with polyester resin, which is used to make personal protective equipment (PPE).
Of course, a second wave of COVID-19 could be a step backward. Looking ahead, our in-country managers are staying in close contact with our suppliers to ensure we’ll be able to meet our customers’ needs as quickly as possible, both now and in the future.
Add Conitex Sonoco to Your Approved Vendor List
Now more than ever, you need a bulk bag partner that is nimble and reliable, with experts on staff who can help you succeed through these challenging times. As you plan for 2021 and beyond, make sure you have an uninterrupted supply of bulk bags. Add Conitex Sonoco to your approved vendor list and benefit from our decades of experience providing high-quality packaging products and dedicated support that puts our customers first.