Supply Chain Issues-Furnace Builder “Gasbarre” and Controls Company “Stange Elektronik ” Speak Out

In our continuing series entitled “Supply Chain Issues & The Heat Treatment Industry” we are asking industry suppliers what they are seeing these days and how they are reacting. Today we have comments from Mr. Ben Gasbarre, President of furnace builder “Gasbarre Industrial Furnace Systems” and Mr. Frank Thiesen , Managing Director of global controls company  “Stange Elektronik”.

“For Gasbarre, after the COVID shutdowns in early 2020, our backlog really took off in the fall of 2020 and has remained strong since.  This posed challenges for us with both personnel and space within our manufacturing facility in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.  While nothing is perfect, we have effectively implemented incentivized employee referral programs, completed employee engagement surveys, and implemented changes based on feedback to support employee retention.  We have also gotten lucky (you need some of that from time to time) with talented personnel becoming available based on restructuring of other businesses in our area.  As well, with our multiple manufacturing locations, we’ve been able to share resources between facilities, and are building a complete furnace in our DuBois, PA facility where our compaction press, automation, and contract manufacturing is done.  While we do have positions open, we have been fortunate in our ability to staff and remain flexible over the last 9-12 months.

With our large capital equipment projects, the component shortage has created a different kind of strain on our resources.  It is typical for our engineering department to release long lead items very early in a project, but wait on more standard components until the final designs are complete and approved.  We don’t have that luxury anymore as what was considered standard in the past, now can carry a much longer lead time.  We’ve seen items such as relays, contactors, disconnects, VFDs, PLCs, HMIs, belts, burners, spark igniters, etc… having lead times into 2022 and beyond.  This puts a strain on our engineering and purchasing departments to, not only get things released quickly, but also finding alternatives that are available in our required time frame.  We’ve been fortunate based on our multiple offices, that we are able to work with suppliers and distributors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New England for available inventory.  It truly does take a team effort to combat these shortages that impact all of our businesses.

While we’ve all had our challenges in 2020 and 2021, we are no exception, we are excited about the position we’ve been able to put ourselves in as we go into 2022.  We are able to remain competitive with our pricing and lead times, we are finalizing plans to expand our manufacturing facilities Pennsylvania, and are enhancing our testing and R&D capabilities at our technical center in Michigan. Ben Gasbarre, President Industrial Furnace Systems”

Mr. Frank Thiesen, Managing Director of Stange Elektronik has these comments about the situation these days;

“Well, the situation with the supply chains is absolutely crazy at the moment. Up to now electronic components were mostly in stock. Printed circuit boards with components were generally less than 12 weeks and prices were stable.

Today we order with delivery times of 52 – 57 weeks. This means we are ordering for 2023 based on expectations at the moment.

But it is not guaranteed that the suppliers will deliver. We have already received terminations from suppliers where we had running orders and who we have done business with for many years. They tell us that they can’t get the parts.  Additionally, at the economic crises at beginning of the decade special electronic parts like CPU’s were a problem to get. Now, really everything could become a problem like simple plugs, resistors, capacitors etc. This is followed by suppliers who increase their prices up to 300 percent!  So, our purchasing works around these issues every day around and we are really happy and proud that we can deliver our goods from stock (at the moment). Who knows what will come up tomorrow?” Mr. Frank Thiesen, Managing Director of Stange Elektronik

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