Planning Ahead for Supply Chain Interruptions
Much like a traffic signal switching colors, the global attractions industry’s supply chain is either moving forward under a green light, inching along under caution, or stopped on red.
“It is financially unsupportable for most businesses that make physical products to achieve 100% resilience, i.e., to develop and maintain the ability to recreate full production capacity immediately after a crisis occurs,” says James B. Rice Jr., the deputy director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics of supply chains. “The challenge is how to invest in ways to make the organization sufficiently resilient in the recovery phase of a disruption and beyond.”
Stopped on Red
“Bottom line, we don’t have any business from any customers at all as they, for the most part are all shut down,” says Jon Brady, vice president of business development at Player One Amusement Group. “We just don’t have any parts, service, or equipment moving in any direction right now.”
Brady says he’s worked with a few manufacturers who are shipping parts on an emergency basis, but looks forward to helping his customers at family entertainment centers (FECs) reopen.
“It will more than likely be a slow start back, variable by state or location,” Brady says. “We are going to work with our clients in helping them get back in business, consulting with them on best cleaning and sanitizing practices, and delivering product that is currently in our warehouse.”
By nature, supply chains are like the tide (or a wave pool at a water park)—there’s an ebb and flow. If there’s little wind, the current moves slowly. If there’s a lot of wind—and in this case, assistance—movement happens quickly.
“We have seen so many businesses, across all markets, offer assistance on payment terms, creatively working to deliver material, to even working after hours to help customers,” says Phil Wilson, executive vice president at Extreme Engineering.
Developing a supply chain that efficiently manages transporting raw materials, manufacturing them into finished products, and delivering the finished product, can help an attraction save money.
Operating With Caution
While several companies have seen a slowdown in their supply chains, others have had clients that have hit the pause button.
“We have had some clients postpone the installation of their 2020 capital until next year,” says Adam Sandy, president of business development with Ride Entertainment. “We are doing our best.”
Ride Entertainment’s installation and maintenance team has continued to work safely when conditions permit.
“We have worked on closed sites with limited personnel in order to help ensure our team’s safety,” Sandy says, sharing his company has aided in the construction of a number of Zamperla rides for Six Flags, along with collaborating with ProSlide on an installation at Ocean Breeze water park in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“Many of our food-focused customers are open on a very limited takeout-only basis,” says Bryn Netz
a regional sales manager, with Sureshot Redemption. “We have temporarily reduced our office and personnel base, but continue to receive inbound merchandise shipments into our distribution centers.”
Netz tells Funworld that Sureshot Redemption’s sales, marketing, and product development teams continue to work remotely developing programs to help their clients reopen with needed supplies.
Using the Green Light
The company known for creating the single-rider “Cloud Coaster” has seen supply chain interruptions, but Extreme Engineering has continued to fulfill orders.
“Almost every sub-supplier in the steel, hardware, and tooling industries have had to adjust working hours, or even temporarily close,” says Wilson. Plus, he has seen delivery trucks needing more time to schedule pickups and deliveries.
“We had to adjust our turnaround times to accommodate the current climate we are in,” Wilson says. The nature of the global pandemic has led to a greater feeling of cooperation, according to Wilson.
“I think everyone has been very understanding and supportive,” he says.
Rice believes all businesses should take time after the pandemic is over to plan ahead for the next crisis.
“In each of the major disruptions over the past 20 years including the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Rita (2005), Thai Floods (2011), and the Sendai earthquake disaster (2011), companies learned that they are very much dependent on the viability of their upstream suppliers,” he says. “More importantly, these disruptions showed how firms knew relatively little about their upstream supply chain.”
Rice says supply chain management and logistics must be part of a business continuity plan and need to be part of an integrated response. Waiting to manage a supply chain interruption during a crisis is too late.
“Knowing the locations of suppliers, what each enterprise supplies, and their production vulnerabilities—in as much detail as possible—is critically important when a crisis hits.” Rice says. “Once this happens, there is a race against the clock and other companies competing to secure the remaining capacity.”
Using only domestically-sourced parts has helped Intercard continue making their card-reading devices found on games at FECs.
“All orders are being filled at Intercard just like they did before the crisis hit,” says Intercard CEO Scott Sherrod, adding his company stocks parts a year in advance before they are needed.
Rice suggests businesses follow these steps to weather the storm, like Intercard, before it arrives:
- Develop contingency plans that include backup supply, transportation, internal communication processes, clear human resources and public relations policies, and communicate early with key suppliers.
- Hold educational simulations that promote awareness and training for proper response.
- Develop relationships with government officials in office and those who work in regulatory compliance roles.
- Generate up-to-date contact lists before a crisis.
- Create techniques to separate fact from rumors, when looking to keep goods moving.
“Looking at the COVID-19 crisis, we hope that this time we heed the lessons rather than allowing them to fade along with the memory of the disaster,” Rice says.
Asking for Help
Attractions should not be afraid to ask for special considerations while the effects of the coronavirus continue to linger.
“We have offered payment terms for our strategic partners to turnkey engineering and fabrication services on entire projects, making it easier for our theme park customers and attraction suppliers,” says Wilson.
Sandy says owners and operators can look to manufacturers and suppliers for help and assistance finding parts when reopening is apparent.
“Whether it is rehabbing attractions, helping clients source parts, or working on maintenance projects, there will be a need for skilled assistance from companies,” Sandy says. “So many parks had to shut down while they were still finishing winter rehabs or getting the parks up and running.”