The best defense against metals market forces? Strong inventory management.

In an ideal world, every manufacturer would be able to get their hands on the metal they need, when they need it, at their preferred price. As a result, their cash flow would always be healthy, operations uninterrupted and metal quality impeccably consistent. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work this way.

The volatile global market, combined with the natural ebb and flow of your business, make metal purchasing a complex process. Sometimes, you have to pay a higher price than you budgeted for. Other times, you have to go with a lower-quality product, and suffer operational interruptions as a result.

Or do you?

While it’s true you can’t control the global market, there are ways to optimize your inventory and the purchasing processes around it. But this involves shifting your focus away from price and viewing metal in the context of the bigger business picture.

Here are just a few ways to do this:

Identify your purchasing goals upfront
Do you value a stable price over the long term or are you more inclined to capture the lowest price in the market at a specific time? Do you sell on a fixed catalogue price or do you require flexibility?

For some metal purchasers, it makes sense to buy less metal on an as-needed basis. But for others, it’s more prudent to hold off on processing until closer to release.

The first step in optimizing your inventory is determining which camp you fall into—and making purchasing decisions with those priorities in mind.

Find the supplier that best meets your needs
Once you know what’s important to you, it’s time to find a supplier that can help you meet your purchasing goals. For instance, if quality is a priority, you might not want to go with a supplier that guarantees a specific price but mixes supply. In this scenario, not only will the quality vary—and potentially not meet your specifications—but availability might also be spotty.

Instead, it’s best to go with a supplier or Service Center that is willing to sit down with you, understand your needs and take the proper steps to meet them. For instance, some Service Centers, like Samuel, will take steps to make sure that only the metal that meets your specs arrives at your door. This, in turn, allows you to avoid the process of rejecting shipments or wasting time producing sub-quality products.

Focus on optimizing costs, not finding the lowest price
At the end of the day, the goal is to have the quality of materials you need, exactly when you need them. That said, getting this balancing act right requires a deep knowledge of available materials, inventory, supply chains, quality processes and logistics. In short, you need to view your inventory in the context of the bigger picture if you hope to truly reduce costs down the road.

Support, when you need it
Inventory optimization and management is a complex undertaking—and these complexities are amplified if you don’t have the time, resources or background to stay on top of fluctuations in the metals marketplace. Fortunately, at Samuel, navigating the metals market is what we do best—and our knowledgeable Service Center team specializes in helping you make sense of it.

We work with you to find the metal inventory management plan that works best for your unique circumstances. Our ultimate goal is to truly understand your business, learn about the driving forces behind it and get to the crux of your metal needs. From there, we devise a plan to best supply your commodity to you, keeping in mind your unique pain points and challenges.

If you’ve been looking for ways to better optimize your metals inventory but aren’t sure where to start, give our team a call. We’d be happy to help.