Silicone demand is rising at a time when major suppliers are warning customers about longer lead times and tightening supply constraints. The causes include an end to COVID-related slowdowns, a shortage of steel, and a rising tide of shipping delays. Whether these delays occur on land because of bad weather or at sea because there aren’t enough personnel in port to receive cargo, silicone buyers are concerned.
During my two decades in the silicone rubber business, I’ve seen many supply chain issues. What we are experiencing in 2021 will pass as well. The factors that are driving today’s supply constraints are different than in 2018, a shortage you may recall. Back then, there wasn’t enough capacity to meet global demand for polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the basic building block of silicone rubber.
The good news in 2021 (and we’d all like some good news, wouldn’t we?) is that we expect silicone supply to stabilize this year. In fact, we can anticipate some supply chain normalcy beginning in Q3. In the meantime, however, silicone buyers can anticipate longer lead times and potential price increases as major suppliers look to meet a post-COVID rebound in demand.
Here’s some more good news, especially if you remain concerned about silicone demand. Current silicoine demand levels are not, in my opinion, significantly higher than they were before COVID-19 (other than demand for healthcare elastomers). Therefore, the major suppliers are simply playing catch-up rather than trying to add significant capacity. These suppliers do a great job at managing flow, but the current situation is like a long and heavy train. Once stopped, it takes a while for everything to start moving again.
What does this mean for you? Please know that ElastaPro continues to work very closely with our supplier partners to secure raw materials for solid silicone sheeting and silicone compounds. At the same time, we’re doing all we can to control costs. Silicone may be in short supply today, but that won’t last forever. What’s built-to-last, however, are supplier relationships based on trust.
Contact us for more information, or to place an order.