Van Leeuwen
The most important thing is availability

The most important thing is availability

Ingrid Karrenbeld, Van Leeuwen Precision, Deventer, the Netherlands

The equipment manufacturing market is important for Van Leeuwen Precisie. Customers include companies in the automotive branch, machine factories, bending companies and machining shops. Van Leeuwen keeps stock of essential products for these companies. Seeing as delivery times can fluctuate a lot, this is often a challenge. In this blog, I will tell you how Van Leeuwen deals with these issues, within the company and towards our customers.

I have been a team leader in equipment manufacturing at Van Leeuwen Precisie for a little over 2 years now. In this branch, we deliver a complete package of precision products to a highly diverse client base. One customer may produce the end product themselves, while the other supplies parts to their own clients. To give an example, we have a  customer who builds stairlifts. We supply the tubes which run parallel to the stairs.

One of our other customers makes rolls for industrial printers. The customer modifies our materials and supplies the rolls to companies like HP. In other words, our customers are not always the end users. Our biggest customer DAF, on the other hand, is an end user. After all, with all the parts we supply, they eventually build their trucks.

Demand and supply not in balance

In the steel market, delivery times and availability can fluctuate a lot. Over the last months, our main challenge was making sure the products remain available. There was high demand, but insufficient supply and mills offered 6 to 8 months delivery time. Being a stockholding company, however, we still want to be able to service our customers. In order to do this, it is crucial that we combine our knowledge and skills: we need to know what’s going on in our customers’ daily operations and the market, secure tonnages with our suppliers and make a forecast of how many products we are going to need in the future.

I have to admit that we’re not always completely successful. However, mapping the needs of the market and attuning our product range to those needs as much as possible gets us pretty far in the right direction. These are our main tasks throughout the day and we cooperate with the purchasing department to get things done in the best possible way. This means communication and good teamwork are invaluable. Only then can we deliver on time to our customers and inform them at an early stage in the case of delays.

Situation is different per product group

The problem with long delivery times usually do not occur for all products at the same time. Delivery times can vary a lot between product groups. This is related to the amount of suppliers, the availability of basic materials and the production process. The long delivery time of this year applied mainly for seamless precision tubes and seamless hydraulic tubes. We are happy to find that when we explain the situation to our customers, they understand why one product is available sooner than the other. Moreover, the entire market has to deal with the same problem. It’s up to us to react to the issue in the best way and to unburden our customers as much as possible.

We can arrange priority in production

One group of customers has running blanket orders. Consequently, when a customer has a blanket order for 1000 meters of a certain size and we notice there are only 400 meters left, we contact the customer to discuss booking a new blanket order. This way, we can guarantee continuity. This is only possible thanks to our close relationships with our suppliers, who actively get in touch if delivery times change. In the steel market, there are only a few suppliers capable of short-term delivery. If we run low on specific sizes, we ask our suppliers to prioritize these sizes during production. Being able to do this sets us apart from the competition.

Honesty is key

Our profession is precision work and timing is always crucial. So when delivery times, as well as emotions, run high, it is comforting for customers that we know how to calmly handle these situations. Also, our motto is to always inform the customer, whether it’s good or bad news. We always strive towards a long-term vision and never make false promises just to book an order. It is important to us that our relation with the customer is based on mutual trust. To achieve this, open and honest communication is key.



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