LAS VEGAS The supply chain challenges facing bakers and suppliers are myriad and relentless, requiring persistence and creativity to overcome. The experts on the American Bakers Association (ABA) supply chain panel on Monday, Sept. 19, offered up stories, advice and solutions.

Maggie Brown, director of global supply chain at Kwik Lok, said when a component needed for a piece of equipment stretched from an eight-week delivery to a year, the company’s engineers redesigned the machine in four weeks and eliminated that component.

“It’s an incredible example of teamwork and innovation,” she said. She stressed the importance of communication in order to head off delays and problems.

“We have to communicate constantly, every day with every one of our vendors and every one of our engineers,” she said. “Vendors are often going to be able to give you insight into what they’re seeing.”

Hayden Wands, vice president of global procurement, commodities, for Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, said the world has gone from the “new normal” to the “no normal.”

“We feel we’re going to face that going forward, and it’s going to be common,” he said.

Panel moderator Lee Sanders, senior vice president, government relations and public affairs, ABA, and the rest of the panel stressed the importance of being flexible and having a backup plan.

“Everyone’s lead time has really tripled or quadrupled,” she said. “They have to think about that; they have to think about having not only a Plan B but a Plan C. Being honest and having those very candid conversations with your trusted suppliers is important. If they’re having an issue, they’re comfortable letting you know so you can look at your Plan B or Plan C. It’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket right now.”