Continued Impact of COVID-19: Fastener Industry Facing Shortages

    The impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic is still being felt throughout many industries, with the fastener industry being no exception. Hi-Tech Fasteners continues to provide a diverse inventory with the best lead times the current shortages will allow. Before discussing solutions and planning, it is important to understand the forces influencing lead time challenges taking place with the fasteners industry as well as many others.

    The supply chain issues are due to many factors. Any industry requiring steel has seen lead time advancements and staggering hikes in pricing. At the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for steel dropped significantly, before quickly rebounding and completely outpacing pre-pandemic demand.  The prices skyrocketed along with demand and have not come back down throughout 2021 so far. As increased investment in infrastructure becomes a reality, the demand for steel is projected to increase more over 2020 demand. 

    The production of steel has not been able to keep up with the demand worldwide. With factories shut down early in the pandemic and not up and running as quickly as the need for steel bounced back, it’s become one of the major factors impacting shortages in many industries, including fasteners. Even with producers now running non-stop to try and catch up with demand, it hasn’t been enough so far to relieve supply chain issues. “Global industrial output rose above its pre-crisis level in early 2021 but has since stagnated, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank.” (WSJ). The shortages of raw materials such as steel are being felt as shortages of nuts, screws, and washers. 

    Additional difficulties in the fastener and many other industries remain worker shortages and shipping delays. For example, the freight industry is struggling with shortages of shipping containers, and the workers needed to unload them and keep materials moving worldwide. Between the delays caused by blocked shipping lanes, scarcity of workforce, not enough ships to transport the demand for materials, and new larger ships not available in the near future, it will be a while before the freight industry gets back to normal.

    All of these factors have led to inflation beyond what industries such as fasteners can take on without a rise in their prices being passed on to consumers. Consumer industries will have to share in the price hikes to ensure continued access to the critical parts they need to build their products. For this reason, it is crucial for those in executive and management positions to be aware of their usage of parts in order to plan and order for the year properly. In addition, the proper scheduling with distribution is essential to limiting the amount of disruption to production lines. Fasteners may be a small part of the overall product, but the line will not stay up and running without them, and the products will not be made.

    HTF carries a large inventory of military and defense-grade fasteners, many of which are imported products. However, one of the domestic suppliers responsible for the majority of parts in the HTF inventory comes from North East Fasteners (NEF). A company based in the United States and supplying parts since 1963, NEF uses digital inspection to ensure the highest quality parts leave their line. As an ISO 9001 certified business, HTF is equally as dedicated to supplying excellent product quality and superior customer service. Since 1998, HTF has maintained continuous certification, and as of 2019, were ISO certified in Canada as well. 

    With so many industries facing supply chain issues leading to rising inflation, it is essential to review parts usage for the coming year and place timely orders to ensure the parts you need are there in time without disruption to production. Unfortunately, many suppliers, especially those in Europe, have months-long lead times on part-deliveries without much improvement in the foreseeable future. 

    HTF is ready to support customers through the current challenges with many offerings that have set them apart through the years. Manufacturer catalogs help determine the parts for your ordering needs, and custom labeling is available with the flexibility to include both the manufacturer and customer’s part numbers, barcodes, lots, and dates. The scheduling options for regular deliveries are flexible and offered on many standard products. The experts at HTF are ready to bring their expertise to your ordering needs in these challenging times. Reach out today and utilize HTF’s knowledge and scheduling abilities to meet your fastening needs and limit interruption to the production process.

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