On-time fiber optic delivery during a supply chain crisis

It’s no secret that gas prices are (way) up, COVID-19 is still rampant and global politics are affecting trade and commerce. As a relatively new Vitex shipping team member, Karen Colmenares has seen these challenges first-hand.

From where she sits in a cylindrical windowed expanse of warehouse, Karen manages an assortment of cardboard boxes of assorted sizes and shapes artfully arranged around her. Aside from keeping everything on schedule, she has learned flexibility and the ability to overcome the many obstacles that have come her way.

Chief among them is the fiber optic supply chain challenges. For example, a two-week turnaround from our Southeast Asia manufacturer partners to Vitex to end client is typical. In the last two years, that cycle has sometimes been extended to four to six weeks (or longer), particularly for products that come from China. China has experienced sporadic national shutdowns throughout the pandemic which has slowed production of fiber optic transceivers, cables, TOSA/ROSA and components. One leading fiber optic manufacturer experienced a shortage of raw materials which, combined with shutdowns, has delayed shipments by months.

Adding to Karen’s job is another challenge: the volume of shipments she tracks and manages is expanding as Vitex grows. Her role has expanded as well.

At Vitex, our shipping department is the epicenter of fulfillment operations—receiving, packing, and shipping, quality control and customization—and delivering the best to our clients no matter what.

Some strategies Karen and her team have used to weather these obstacles include:

  1. Constant internal communication.
    “The biggest challenge for fiber optics has been the supply chain crisis,” according to Karen. “While I don’t deal directly with clients, we are committed to communicating issues as they come up and trying to get things out on schedule as much as we possibly can.”

  2. Responsive client communication and updates.
    Vitex cultivates longstanding relationships with both clients and manufacturers. Our operations team is able to communicate directly with our partners so that we can keep our clients updated, sometimes daily, with status information and stocking recommendations.

  3. Cushioning customers against supply chain delays by stocking items.
    We stock products for many of our regular customers so they’re prepared for shortages or supply chain issues.

  4. Growth in volume; growth in solution-thinking.
    Even through COVID-19 hiccups and left-hooks, Karen and her coworkers have been able to manage, pack, ship and track shipments at a fast pace and have expanded hires to ensure there is no gap or delay.

  5. Quality Assurance hasn’t wavered.
    Our QA team includes trained fiber optic specialists who perform quality control testing. As an added layer of quality assurance, Karen packs or repacks products to ensure that there’s sufficient cushioning to prevent in-transit damage and client delivery delays. “If items are not packed properly, they can be damaged, affecting the electrical circuitry of transceivers particularly. Eventually they wouldn’t operate properly.”

  6. Customization is always available.
    As part of shipping, Karen is part of Vitex’s extensive customization and private labeling operations. Whether it’s customized packaging and quantities or reprogramming EEPROM, customization is always built into delivery and product turnaround timing.

A “Karen” at Vitex is a good thing

As part of Vitex’s growing team, the clients’ needs are Karen’s first priority: “Ensuring that our clients get quality products – what they ordered and when they want it- makes the most of my organizational skills.”

As a fiber optic distributor, Vitex having warehouses and offices in New Jersey also has advantages. Samples and small orders are air-shipped right to Newark to circumvent container shipping delays. “Sometimes, I can get products in a customer’s hand within days. And, if there are order changes or questions, our customers can always just pick up the phone during regular business hours.”

Vitex remains customer-focused throughout the storm

The requests for specialized parts and specialized handling haven’t changed with the rolling waves of obstacles the company—and all of us—have experienced. Despite supply chain crises, COVID-19, escalating energy costs, wars, and world calamities, keeping on top of tight schedules and delivering exactly what clients want is what gives Karen the most satisfaction. It’s also what the company values.

To learn more about how we can help with fiber optic supply chain or quality control issues, reach out to us at info@vitextech.com.

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