Coronavirus-Is It Effecting the Heat Treating Industry?
For much of the world the coronavirus is little more than headlines in a newspaper but as the headlines grow closer and more persistent we are hearing more and more questions about possible effects on the heat treatment industry. As the virus is centered in China any possible effects for the rest of the world are going to be centered on those heat treating products and components which are exported from that country and heat treating imports to China from the rest of the world. While most or our information is anectodical we can say with certainty that heat treat exhibitions in the country are being postponed -the first example is the 13th International Exhibition for Powder Metallurgy, Cemented Carbides and Advanced Ceramics organised by Uniris Exhibition Shanghai Co., Ltd, which had been scheduled for March 24-26th has now has been postponed until further notice. Furnace start ups by Western suppliers are also being postponed due to travel restrictions involving field service engineers. We can say with certainty that 2 vacuum nitriders being built by European suppliers, 3 vacuum furnaces being built by European and North American builders and one mesh belt line being supplied by a North American company have all had their start ups delayed indefinitely.
The picture for heat treating products being exported from China is a little murkier due to the Chinese New Year. In 2020 this was celebrated from January 25th to February 8th during which time almost all companies were closed. As this coincided with the coronavirus outbreak it is impossible to say with certainty how much this has effected exports. However you can certainly say that since this was extended by at least a week in many parts of the country it has slowed exports down by some degree. As it happens we at “The Monty” have a great deal of experience with molybdenum and alloy exports from China and to date we have seen very minor delays at most, delays mainly in quoting and engineering. This response from a Chinese supplier of moly seems to be typical; “Mr.Gord, Yes, coronavirus is furious, but nearly one month passed, it becomes slowing down, plant plan to reopen tomorrow Feb 13th. The 4 orders from U.S. will be shipped continuely within next month so we only little late.”
So at the end of the day until Chinese suppliers return from the extended Chinese New Year it is impossible to know for sure the effects on our industry. We will keep you posted.