The Aerospace Spring industry is encountering delivery problems with outside processing and raw material deliveries for the products we provide our customers. I am sure you are experiencing this issue with your other suppliers as it is industry wide.
Outside processing such as coatings or heat treating for example have experienced a considerable increase in demand. This is based on President Trumps Defense buildup. In most cases we are very limited to approved sources by either your customer or your customers customer. For instance if the drawing requires processing to a Boeing specification by a Boeing approved supplier. We can only use those approved sources. This creates a bottleneck at those approved suppliers beyond our control based on their capacity and backlog. We are forced to wait for them to process our parts.
Raw materials like wire we use for springs has availability issues based on two factors. The first of which is the 2008 / 2009 economic downturn. The lack of growth in the following years caused raw material warehouses to downsize. They reevaluated their inventory exposure to remain solvent. The result was a dramatic reduction in floor stock based on inventory turns. What once was available from warehouse stock now became special order with variable lead times. The sequester program the government allowed especially impacted Aerospace Spring Industry especially with DFARS material that was already an availability issue before 2008.
The second issue with raw material is with steel mills which are limited in number domestically. They are running at capacity based on the improved economy. In many cases they sell to redrawing mills who draw the wire down to the size the warehouse ordered. This means two sets of lead times before we can get our hands on the wire we need.
In some cases, the delivery problem is exacerbated by material being available when we quote your requirement. But, when your order is placed it has been sold to someone else.
When this happens, we are forced to scour the world for acceptable material. In some cases we are forced to buy minimum quantities of material that exceed what is needed for your order.
Unfortunately there in no relief in sight as the steel industry has no plans to increase capacity anytime soon. The cost is significant and the current demand may subside before the added capacity is realized.
We are doing everything in our power to deliver on time. We continue to seek viable solutions to material and processing issues.