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How Supply Chains Affect Railroad Bag Build Time

Pulling fabric for cutting bag parts and pieces

Hand-Crafting Your Railroad Bag One at a Time

What Is A Supply Chain?

The definition of "supply chain" refers to the material vendors that distribute retail and wholesale supplies around the world. The chain itself can be the transporters. Such as those huge cargo ships that travel globally. The long loaded freight trains you see along-side highways. Big rigs driving down those highways. Or cargo planes flying overhead.

Supply Chain Analysis

As we all now know, the chain is a fragile and sensitive system. During the recent pandemic, a few chains in the supply line broke. One cargo ship got stuck in the Suez, setting back deliveries for dozens of ships behind it. Protesters blocked access highways, thereby forcing shipping trucks to reroute. While not many of these shipping factors have upset our supply chains, other problems came to light.

Scarcity of Source Materials

The "supply" in a supply chain is a factor for logistical consideration. For example, the source material that composes the fabric that makes up your Red Oxx bags is petroleum. The thread used to weave the CORDURA® Brand Nylon Fabric and Ballistic Nylon is made from petroleum. The fabric’s inner water-resistant poly-coating is also sourced from petroleum. This is a resource whose availability is under duress.

Conservation of Supplies Lead to Suppression of Inventory

A recent Wall Street Journal article stated, "Supply chains typically get beaten up during recessions. As sales decline, companies draw down inventories to conserve cash instead of purchasing more parts and materials."

Red Oxx was no exception to this effect. Basically, we scaled back our marketing efforts. We were forced to furlough some factory employees. During those months we tip-toed through the minefield of pandemic tulips.

Increased Demand Depletes Remaining Stock

Today, manufacturers, including Red Oxx, are placing larger material orders. This helps to compensate for the extra time it takes to procure these supplies. Further, the Journal stated, "Supply-chain disruptions, worker absences and other challenges …are further complicating manufacturers’ efforts to catch up."

According to an article in the National Law Review, "After carrying out an orderly retreat from assembly lines … many manufacturers pulled out the playbook they followed in past recessions, cutting costs and preserving cash. That left them unprepared for the sharp rebound in consumer demand…" when the pandemic subsided this spring.

Lean inventory assessment begins with Kanban
Lean Manufacturing inventory assessment begins with Kanban.

Supply Chain Logistics – Demand vs. Availability

And so it is with our 1050 Denier Ballistic Nylon fabric that makes up our Railroad Grips and Rucksacks. Our primary supplier of Ballistic Nylon encountered this problem when the stockpile of the supply of thread they use ran out. Fortunately, they were able to source new thread. They are now weaving new Ballistic fabric.

Unfortunately this extended manufacturing process takes time. There are also other companies in need of Ballistic. The fabric mills require time to weave, dye, and poly-coat the fabric, then pallet the rolls for distribution. For each order that is processed by the mill, the shipment timeline is first in, first out.

Why 90 Days to Build My Railroad Bag?

Between sourcing the thread, weaving the fabric, preparing the pallets to ship the rolls, and organizing shipping distribution, it’s now a couple months from ordering a roll to getting it delivered.

Red Oxx Quality Control Inspection photo by Kristin Jean
Red Oxx Quality Control inspection and final prep.

Additionally, our Quality Control Team has to inspect the roll when it arrives to meet our strict material standards. Then each Railroad bag order is processed, the patterns measured out, then the pieces are cut. Finally, your bag is scheduled for production assembly. All this takes place at our Billings, Montana manufacturing factory.

Red Oxx manufacturing operates according to Lean Manufacturing principles. Lean Manufacturing efficiency calls for grouping assembly production by type of bag. So a batch of Grips is built, a batch of Rucksacks, and so on. Accordingly, two or three days are devoted in a work week to backorders for Railroad bags.

Current supply chain issues have meant making adjustments to our Kanban visual-based stockpile inventory control system. All of these adjustments and scenarios affect your bag’s build time, extending it.

As a manufacturing facility Red Oxx operates in the same manner as the fabric mills. First order in, first order out. The common acronym for this is FIFO. Certainly, this is why Red Oxx recommends placing your order as soon as you can.

Hand-crafting your Red Oxx Railroad Gear takes time
Hand-crafting your Red Oxx Railroad Gear takes time.

Today, this is a lot easier for you to accomplish. Our purchase convenience payment options have expanded to include PayPal and affirm. The later, affirm, is a pay-at-your-own-pace monthly installment payment program. Click learn more about affirm here or click the affirm link on our product pages located above the add to cart button.

Hat tip to Kristin Jean for all photos featured in this article.