Domestic solar is consistently breaking installation records year over year and is slated to keep that pace. Yet, manufacturers and suppliers are still feeling the effects of pandemic supply chain delays. In this episode of Solar Spotlight, Unirac’s new VP of operations and supply chain, Lee Ingram, and former guest and VP of Unirac’s commercial division, Brandon Carrasco, are here to discuss how the manufacturer is keeping a steady supply of racking for its clientele.
Below is an excerpt of Unirac’s Solar Spotlight podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app.
Could you share some strategies that have been particularly effective in mitigating supply chain interruptions during these challenging times?
Lee Ingram: We’ve got a global supply chain. We’re sourcing in multiple continents, which gives us that diversity and sort of risk mitigation. The nature of our relationships with our suppliers is also super critical. I mean, it’s not a one-way street. There are significant collaboration and partnership with our supply pool. And then at the end of the day, you live and die by your people — and Unirac has great people — and it’s just the real hustle and determination of our team and working with our suppliers and being able to react and be agile, that helped us survive and thrive, really, in that environment.
The IRA Domestic Content adder is a hot topic. What is Unirac’s view on meeting the guidance set forth by the IRS?
Brandon Carrasco: Everybody is anxious to start claiming these credits. And I think us, right along with everybody else, really wish that the IRS guidance was more clear, that it could move faster, but it just takes time for those things to shake out. So, I think there’s a wide range of the ways that people are looking at it out there. We are working hard to stay on top of it and keep our eyes out and to be able to educate and inform and support our customers in the best way that we can from our vantage point and with our resources that we can bring to the table.
Sustainability is a growing concern in the solar industry. How does Unirac balance cost-saving measures with environmental responsibility in its supply chain and commercial operations?
LI: Obviously, we’re in a renewable business, so that’s a real significant focus for us. But for me, sustainability really touches all three of the ESG pillars, which are environmental, social and governance. We work hard with our suppliers abroad to make sure that our suppliers are doing the right things as they deal with their sub suppliers, as they deal with their employees, which creates a sustainable relationship.
Beyond reliable material supply, what else are you doing to support the needs of solar installers and remain competitive?
BC: So, Unirac has put a strong emphasis on maintaining consistently short lead times, as well as localizing material. Localizing material feeds into that, but it’s really about how we deliver those products. We keep a strong stocking position as a company that requires an investment, but it leads to a competitive advantage, and it differentiates Unirac from somebody who is hand to mouth or they’ve got long lead times. You might have six to eight, maybe 10-week lead times if you’re customizing or stamping a project individually, where Unirac has put the time and the energy and the money into making sure that we’ve got inventory.
This podcast is sponsored by Unirac