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Supply chain uncertainties surfacing ahead of start-up

By |  March 3, 2021
With longer lead times on certain components, producers may want to evaluate what they – or their dealers – have available on the shelf. Photo: P&Q Staff

With longer lead times on certain components, producers may want to evaluate what they – or their dealers – have available on the shelf. Photo: P&Q Staff

A number of aggregate producers reevaluated their parts inventories shortly after the pandemic set in around this time last year.

Although a year has passed since then, producers should still be wary of constraints in the supply chain. With production ramping up in colder climates, producers won’t want to get caught without critical components should their spring start-up hit a snag.

“Right now, castings are getting more difficult to get and we’re seeing longer lead times,” says Bobby Carroll, president of Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment, a Florida-based dealer that largely serves the Southeast. “The same goes for crusher hammers, material washers and wear shoes – any component that is a cast piece.”

Gulf Atlantic used to see two- to three-month lead times from castings companies. Now, Carroll says lead times are stretched out to eight months in some instances.

“There are a lot of shortages industrywide on different components,” he says. “We’ve seen a trend over the last year of supply chains changing.”

Another perspective

Kimball Equipment’s Mark Oviatt agrees new pressures have been introduced to the supply chain of late.

“Prices are certainly going up, and there are tariff wars with China,” says Oviatt, a dealer with locations in six Western states. “Most of the steel manganese comes from India or China, so shipping times have increased. China has some issues with their foundries.”

In early February, for example, Oviatt says a number of freighters were lining up along the West Coast just waiting to be unloaded.

“The ports are really backed up with parts and supplies,” he says. “There’s a transportation issue.”

Additionally, Oviatt says China, for a period, cut back on the amount of goods it shipped to the U.S. That dynamic has since normalized, Oviatt adds, but he nevertheless has an important message for producers.

“Make sure you know what you’re going to be using as far as blow bars, jaw manganese and crusher manganese,” he says. “Make sure someone has that in the pipeline for you.”

Producers might consider increasing spares that are essential to other areas of their business, as well.

“We had someone looking for a 400-hp Toshiba motor, and the soonest it could be available out of Toshiba was 10 weeks,” Oviatt says. “If you have a 400-hp cone motor that went down and you want to buy Toshiba, you’re going to go with some other brand and maybe adjust your mounting.”

Also, some dealers adjusted their own inventories in advance of spring to combat the haze in the supply chain.

“We’ve upped our inventory,” Oviatt says. “Conveyor belting and manganese linings are up mainly because of uncertainty.”

Some dealers – including Gulf Atlantic – are getting creative to keep producers stocked with critical parts.

“We went as far as setting up consignment warehouses at customer facilities to keep additional supplies on hand,” Carroll says. “We expanded that last year.”

The outlook

While just-in-time inventories provide added conveniences, it’s unclear when lead times will shorten and the cloud of uncertainty will be lifted.

“I think it’s fuzzy,” Oviatt says. “I don’t think anybody knows what [President] Biden is going to do with tariffs. I don’t think anybody knows what he’s going to do with construction and fossil fuels – and what all of those ships from China are going to be doing. It’s just a little fuzzy right now.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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