Anyone who wasn’t familiar with the supply chain and how it works got a crash course during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain problems caused shortages of everything from personal protective equipment and medicine to chicken wings and canned cat food, and the chain still hasn’t completely sorted itself out.
Leaders from South Carolina’s business community took a major step on Monday, July 19, to help keep the state’s supply chain running as smoothly as possible.
Along with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, they got together at the BOMAG America equipment plant in Ridgeway to launch CONNEX South Carolina, a free online platform that offers one-stop access for the state’s manufacturers to connect with one another, find local suppliers, discover new business opportunities and manage supply chains. BOMAG manufactures compaction and road building equipment and employs more than 180 people in Ridgeway.
CONNEX South Carolina is available free to South Carolina manufacturers through a partnership of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance and the state Commerce Department. The platform was created by i5 Services as the CONNEX Marketplace platform more than a decade ago, and is used around the country to help connect the U.S. manufacturing supply chain and enhance companies’ ability to keep manufacturing solutions locally sourced.
“This is a huge win for South Carolina manufacturers,” said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. “This one-of-a-kind tool empowers manufacturers of all sizes, both buyers and sellers, to enhance supply chain connectivity. CONNEX South Carolina is an innovative resource to help manufacturers compete and create jobs.”
Andy Carr, president and CEO of SCMEP, said the platform has been under development for nine months and will offer both small and large manufacturers in the state a chance to post their needs, network with others and search for qualified suppliers.
“The words ‘supply chain’ leapt into national focus three years ago when all of a sudden we couldn’t get PPE or supplies to protect our loved ones,” Carr said. “That caused us to focus on it and come together to look for a solution. We spent the last 20 to 25 years building supply chains, a lot of them offshore, and most of the time they’ve worked well, but like I-26 on a Friday afternoon, all it takes is one little glitch like a strike at a port or a ship getting stuck to bring the whole thing to a halt.”
Carr said CONNEX South Carolina will help speed up an ongoing trend of “right-shoring,” or companies bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., because it will allow companies to connect quickly to resolve supply chain issues and find suppliers for goods they need.
Brian Bieller, president of BOMAG Americas, said tools like CONNEX South Carolina will help his industry stay ahead of supply chain problems.
“This supply chain solution will help address deficiencies and speed up production timelines,” Bieller said. “BOMAG’s operations are supported by a global supply chain but manufacturers must be agile and ready to pivot when facing shipping constraints, workforce shortages or other delays that impact our component and parts delivery.”