“A.C. Expediters Keep Materials Coming In”

We of Allis-Chalmers, Vol. III, No. 3, May 1943, page 4.

What . . . when . . . for whom . . . and how the Company makes its products  (as explained in the last issue of “WE”), is decided by Priorities, as issued by the national War Production Board.

But even though we get WPB approval to purchase necessary materials and parts, we still have to go out and get them. That’s the big war-time job of the Purchasing Department’s Expediters.

Tale fuel oil, for example . . .

Allis-Chalmers’ West Allis Works uses many thousands of gallons of fuel oil a day. It is used for scores of purposes throughout the plants. In fact, if we ran out at any time, all heat treating would stop, foundry employes [sic] would be idle, and the work of hundreds of other shop workers would be affected all down the line

On the Job

But a Purchasing Department Expediter keeps continuously on the job. Every day he makes the rounds of all refinery headquarters in Chicago, learns what cars are available, and helps route a supply to come in regularly. During the recent fuel oil crisis, we almost hit the bottom of the storage tank at West Allis. But the Expediter redoubled his efforts . . . and the next morning twelve cars came in. This is typical of the valuable and important work they do to keep operations humming in the various plants.

Or take the case of the mixed-up order on rotor shafts for an important government dam project. One shaft was to be delivered to us by the supplier in November, the other in February. Somehow the order was mixed, and the wrong shaft came in first. It meant months of delay, but the Expediter, in desperation, broke the usual rules for getting immediate action. Instead of contacting the front office of the supplier, he went direct to the men scheduling the production and explained the situation. Together they worked out a solution, and the rotor was delivered on time.

Welding Rod Story

And there’s the welding rod story. Shipyards are using millions of pounds of welding rod a month, and to get rods, especially in small sizes for turbine blading for our use at Allis-Chalmers, takes the continuous effort of our Expediters. Combining the qualities of a shrewd buyer, an engineer, a psychologist, and a detective, the successful Expediter cannot relax for an instant. If he did, important work in the shops would stop overnight.

Sometimes, however, even the Expediters are helpless to solve the material supply problem. A recent example happened when the manufacturer supplying us with circuit breakers for our Switch-gear fell down on deliveries. Expediters who tried who tried to clear up the situation met with a stone wall. Washington was appealed to. The result was the WPB took over the supplier’s delivery schedule, thus providing a more fair distribution of their products.

Often, Allis-Chalmers Expediters actually aid the supplier to solve production problems or work out answers to their own supply problems. A-C Expediters in many instances have helped companies set up production schedule departments which have made it possible for us to get faster deliveries.

Because suppliers are often customers of our products, Expediters must use the greatest tact and skill to retain the good will of these companies . . . even when extreme pressure is being used to get deliveries. In a way, it is like “selling in reverse.”

Getting Raw Material

The Purchasing Expediting Department has had rapid growth in the past few months. Both in the main office and in the field, the organization consisting of more than seventy-five persons has been built up to permit Allis-Chalmers to compete successfully with other companies in getting its proper share of raw materials and parts.

So – the next time you pick up a sheet of brass or a bar of steel or a piece of copper, give a thought to the Purchasing Expediter who somehow – in face of nation-wide shortages – managed to get it for you to work on.

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