The silicone supply chain is much improved now compared to 2021 and 2022. There are many opportunities for future improvements from all participating companies of the silicone supply chain to better guarantee sure supply of high performance silicone rubber in all of its forms. In general, material availability is strong enough to satisfy our current customer demands. Here are select updates:
- Silicone rubber supply chain has normalized from an availability perspective. We believe this will continue and last throughout 2024. Stockwell Elastomerics continues to extend its investment in advanced orders to keep inventories elevated, and to maximize supply chain resources to provide the best possible service to our customers.
- The work that we did with many customers to evaluate alternate materials for consideration will contribute to lower supply risks in the future – although Stockwell Elastomerics still maintains its core strategy to recommend materials that are the BEST match for demanding application requirements. We are thankful for the support of our key material partners and customers during this process, and we are committed to continue to source the best/highest performance materials.
- Although lead times for silicone sponge and silicone foam remain extended compared to 2019 standards, industry leading suppliers continue to improve lead times, with quarterly announcements of supply improvement and lead time reduction.
- There are longer term structural issues in the silicone supply chain which may result in supply vs. demand pressures. Stockwell Elastomerics, and specifically its Chairman and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Bill Stockwell, with some other industry participants that share this passion, are advocating publicly for additional North American investment in capacity to ensure the supply of high performance silicone elastomers.
- We have continued to add manufacturing capacity (people and equipment) to respond to the high demand for our products (see other blog posts and press releases). We continued our previously announced investments in equipment, shifting focus to increasing waterjet cutting capacity in the second half of 2023. We have recruited key talent in Customer Service and Sales Support, Estimating and Quoting, Supply Chain, and Technical Manufacturing in the past two quarters. Special thanks to the Stockwell Elastomerics employees who have “gone the extra mile” in service to our customers.
- We have continued having critical conversations with our customers to plan better for their needs. Thanks to our customers for working so closely with us.
- Fluorosilicone material supply chains have recovered nicely in 2023 and we have ample supply currently.
- Polyurethane foam availability and lead time has recovered, and we currently have a strong inventory position.
- Through our strong inventory position, internal lead times have returned to 2-4 weeks in much of our business and we have created flex capacity to respond even faster to support urgent needs or new product introductions.
While our efforts were not fully successful in protecting our customers from material availability challenges over the past 2 years, we will continue all the above efforts and investments to navigate this challenging time and regain faster service and speed of development for our customers.
We will continue to stay close to the situation through our supplier partners and provide updates as we see the landscape evolve. Stockwell Elastomerics has many unconverted products in stock and these products are available for conversion to gaskets as quickly as 2-3 weeks. Please contact us for updated information and specific lead time on your products.
– Tom Rimel
President, Stockwell Elastomerics