A Collaborative Approach to Navigating Supply Chain Challenges

As we all know, most companies started to experience global chain disruptions during the pandemic and the communications industry was not exempt.

The pandemic forced so many aspects of life to move online, from work to school and even healthcare, and highlighted the urgency of closing the digital divide for all Americans – especially in rural and underserved areas. 

As several waves of government funding for improved broadband connectivity started to flow, the supply chain challenges with material backlogs, labor shortages and transportation became an issue for service providers with their fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout plans.

One leading U.S. Service Provider was not immune to the problems caused by the fractured supply chain. When they began to experience delays with one of the products needed for their network deployments, they knew they had to pivot to find other solutions. This meant finding an alternative product to fulfill the needs for their existing projects, as well as being able to support future deployments that were in the planning stages. 

They turned to Wesco to help them meet the market demand and to keep their deployment projects moving along. This meant Wesco would need to provide guidance in sourcing, evaluating competing solutions, and ensuring product functionality as well as deliverability.

Going into problem solver mode, Wesco turned to one of their long-time suppliers, Wirewerks, in their quest to find solutions for this customer. Wirewerks is a manufacturer of advanced optical fiber and copper connectivity solutions with a strong culture of collaboration present in all areas of their business. From project pre-design to network deployments and on-going support, Wesco can depend on Wirewerks to deliver “best-practice” solutions designed to meet customers’ ever-increasing needs for more network bandwidth, greater throughput, faster data rates and greater reliability.  

Working jointly with Wesco, the Wirewerks engineering team identified a product with similar functionality which also offered the ability to scale to 2X capacity versus that of the backlogged item the customer currently was using. During this process they worked in conjunction with the customer to accommodate current product needs and implement feedback for enhancements. This included some design improvements from the original product that eventually became the new primary standard.

Another issue with the original backlogged product had to do with the individual components. They were being shipped in four individual SKUs.  This meant if any of the individual components were not available, they did not have all the required parts that were needed for their project.

Wirewerks was able to consolidate the parts into one single SKU packaged in one box, which resulted in immediate fulfilment with no individual component backorders.  This also saved costs in labor and shipping as only one SKU had to be shipped, received and handled by the customer.

In order to ensure that inventory would be available to this customer, Wirewerks implemented an aggressive production strategy to scale product production prior to winning the primary standard approval.

To streamline the transition to this new standard, Wirewerks produced professional installation and operational videos that provided training tips and an easy-to-follow tutorial for the customer. This helped reduce errors and answer any questions installers might have during the transition.   

As the product switch began, Wirewerks worked in conjunction with the customer and Wesco to host regional training and demonstration sessions across the U.S. with over 500+ attendees. 

Solving problems for a customer can often involve multiple teams. This is a perfect example of how collaboration between the distributor, the manufacturer and the end-user is critical to ensure that customers’ problems are solved effectively and efficiently.

This also illustrates how distributors and suppliers can work together to take an integrated approach to supply chain optimization by redesigning products or processes and creating significant value to customers.

Donna Yates


Donna Yates
Donna Yates, Marketing Manager for Global Service Providers, Broadband and Wireless, is responsible for supporting the generation of marketing strategy, programs, and collateral for both internal sales members and external end-users for the global broadband segment. During her more than 20 years at Wesco, she has held roles in finance, operations, lean, and marketing.