Material shortages

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Hi All. I know we've discussed this recently but I can't find the thread. Is anyone else across the country experiencing material shortages like circuit breakers, panels, generator power equipment, etc ? Or is it just here in the Northeast where we had storm damage ? I've been going solid for 2 weeks now just repairing electric services and installing generator power inlets and interlock kits. I've gotten orders for some service upgrades but have had to order material on Amazon and other venues. If you take a walk through the big box stores the materials on the shelves are bare. The regular supply houses seem to have material but not sure how long that's going to last.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I was at Lowe's yesterday to buy some wood for a deck repair and they had nothing, literally 100' of bare shelves. Many of their other departments had significant bare shelves as well. I've been buying some electrical parts on Amazon and other online retailers. My parents asked me to buy them a portable generator but it may be a while before they're back in stock.
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
Hi All. I know we've discussed this recently but I can't find the thread. Is anyone else across the country experiencing material shortages like circuit breakers, panels, generator power equipment, etc ? Or is it just here in the Northeast where we had storm damage ? I've been going solid for 2 weeks now just repairing electric services and installing generator power inlets and interlock kits. I've gotten orders for some service upgrades but have had to order material on Amazon and other venues. If you take a walk through the big box stores the materials on the shelves are bare. The regular supply houses seem to have material but not sure how long that's going to last.
No my understanding talking to several of my vendors this is national wide, in fact northeast has been spared for a long time as the the thread you might be thinking of mentioning from other areas back in March/April a shortage. My venders have been unable to get any timeline from suppliers to restock. And it's not just electrical materials, pressure treated has been impossible to get up here. Huge demand for upgrades, generator installation, repairs and materials almost impossible, as you indicated reverting to checking Amazon, I've done quotes and in less than 2 days to get approval on quote and go to place order and item no longer available and no timeline for when it will be again.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
No my understanding talking to several of my vendors this is national wide, in fact northeast has been spared for a long time as the the thread you might be thinking of mentioning from other areas back in March/April a shortage. My venders have been unable to get any timeline from suppliers to restock. And it's not just electrical materials, pressure treated has been impossible to get up here. Huge demand for upgrades, generator installation, repairs and materials almost impossible, as you indicated reverting to checking Amazon, I've done quotes and in less than 2 days to get approval on quote and go to place order and item no longer available and no timeline for when it will be again.
Yes. One of my GC friends told me he had to go to PA to get some specific size and type lumber. Just an FYI, Square D breakers and panels I believe are made in Mexico. We may have to go to Siemrns, CH and Bryant for service upgrades as long as their supplies hold out.
 
I've been encountering spot shortages of almost everything. Yesterday, it was liverwurst and hair bands.

This is an inevitable consequence of outsourcing everything to maximize profit: supply chains become vulnerable to interruption.

In 1920, Henry Ford's answer was to build the River Rouge Complex, bringing in nothing but raw materials and manufacturing everything in-house. In 1980, Honda's answer was to source as much as possible within 200 miles (?) of their Marysville, Ohio assembly line, teaching the Kaizen philosophy to lot of small Mom & Pop manufacturers in the process. They won't even hire assembly-line workers who live more than 30 (?) miles away.

The Big 3 continue outsourcing, but they're meticulous about overseeing their supply lines, even owning their own fleets of trucks to assure that they're not vulnerable to somebody else's priorities. In the past, (and maybe still?) there were a lot of auto parts shipped by air to assure that the assembly lines keep running. Willow Run Airport (Ypsilanti, Michigan) had a lot of overnight traffic.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Same problem here in the southeast. I had to order a Seimens GFCI breaker and wait five days because everyone was sold out. Luckily I was overstocked on regular breakers so I haven't had a problem there.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Just an update, I was visiting my son in IL this past weekend and had several occasions to go to HD. If there were 50 circuit breakers in total (any mfr.) on the shelf it was a lot. One of the employees told me that because of the hurricane damage in LA a lot of the materials are being sent there. Not sure if that's true but it seems plausible.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Just an update, I was visiting my son in IL this past weekend and had several occasions to go to HD. If there were 50 circuit breakers in total (any mfr.) on the shelf it was a lot. One of the employees told me that because of the hurricane damage in LA a lot of the materials are being sent there. Not sure if that's true but it seems plausible.
The fallout from the hurricane does seem to be impacting the supply of some electrical items.
 

sparkyzapped

New User
Location
Minnesota (southern)
Occupation
buyer - electrical contractor
We are in southern Minnesota. SQD QO260'S QO2100'S CAN NOT GET. Conduit is getting real bad, no 3/4", 3" & 4" pvc. Plus so many other items. Hope the USA can start bringing these factories back, Mexico has been hit hard with COVID or something. Most breakers were being made there.
 

buzzbar

Senior Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Here in Washington State, I cannot get 3/4" PVC pipe, regular run of the mill load centers and many types of circuit breakers, such as BR 2P50 or CH 2P50. Even Home Depot is out of Homeline 2P50. This has been going on for months now, and I find it hard to believe that it's still due to 'Hurricane' damage, but hey, what do I know? Covid? Perhaps.

All I know is that the supply chain has some serious issues, and it's not just in the electrical trade. Anyone else experiencing the same thing?
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
After major disaster events (like all the hurricanes and flooding this year), it isn't that the factories are shut down, it's that priority is given to shipments going to areas that need to be rebuilt. Certainteed has two big PVC conduit production plants here in Northern CA, both are running full tilt boogie trying to keep up with demand (we do work at both plants). At one plant, a maintenance supervisor told me that for the past few months, 80% of their production is getting loaded onto rail cars going to the Southeast.

The COVID shortages of some things had to do with shutdowns though. All of the breaker mfrs use factories in Mexico, mostly around Mexico City and they were hit hard by COVID earlier this year.
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I was told this week that production of 1/2” and 2” pvc conduit has stopped for now.

I had to get a couple thousand feet of 2” last month and it was sourced from multiple supplier branches to fill the order.

I haven’t had an issue really getting material other than it’s being delayed a few more days than normal.

Gear package fulfillment seems to be speeding back up. Fixture packages are still spotty. I’m waiting on some EM fixtures I ordered three months ago that should be here next week. All of the standard fixtures for that job came in as expected but battery backups are taking awhile.


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