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Management Side
Week of 1 June 2020: What is the role of purchasing?

Email Jim at jthompson@ipulpmedia.com

Purchasing experiences in my career are legion and become cuter and cuter as time goes by. I have the whole month of June (5 columns) to explain this statement, so I'll not bother doing so now, but faithful readers will see it unfold as we go along.

What is the first and most important job of purchasing? It is to procure all the materials required by the mill on time and without damage.

There are three key pieces to the last sentence. First is "all the materials." Not some of the materials, not most of the materials but "all" the materials. "All the materials" implies that the materials are within the required specifications. For receiving materials outside specifications is not receiving "all the materials." It is receiving some of the material and a bunch of useless junk. "All the materials" has consequences.

"On time" is the second key element from above. "Almost here" or "it will be here tomorrow" is not "on time." In order for items to arrive on time, they must be ordered on time, the delivery time must be verified with the seller and the logistics provider, and all these moving parts must be followed up with a rigorous expediting protocol. If Amazon can tell me exactly where the $10 bonnet I ordered for Aunt Sally is in the procurement, picking and transportation process, your purchasing department should be able to tell you the exact status and location of your roll recovering project any time, any day. If they can't you may need a new purchasing manager, software system, roll cover supplier or all three.

If the material needed arrives on time, but the packaging it came in is damaged (possibly damaging the materials), or the tanker truck ran over a high railroad crossing and damaged the discharge valve on the bottom of his tank, it is worthless. You don't have "all the materials" for although they arrived at your mill, they are useless and the same as if you had not received them at all. If they were "just in time" and damaged, well, no they weren't. You may incur downtime because you did not receive what you needed when you needed it.

Then there is the special case of material that is properly logged in as being on site, but no one can find it. I think this is purchasing's job, too, and they should be judged on where they put materials and the handover procedure they use to transfer care, custody, and control to the proper department. Often this is an informal procedure when it should not be.

Notice, I have not said one word about price this week. Price is important, but when machine time costs $30,000 to $50,000 per hour, there are few things purchasing buys that can compete with this. Get what the mill needs when they need it and where they need it first. Everything else is less important than this.

For safety this week, consider this. Seldom are employees injured by just the air around them. They are nearly always injured by encounters with things the mill procures. This should be a consideration in every purchase.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

Order your copy of Paperitalo's Pretty Good Pulp & Paper Mill Directories on Amazon.com Instructional Video

________

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