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Supply Chain woes.....when will it stop?

Supply Chain woes.....when will it stop?

Everyone is feeling the pinch or the down-right hurt of the supply chain issues. The delays in raw materials, staffing, shipping, it has been a cascading series of events. 

The raw materials are in such short supply that not only is the pricing going up, but manufacturers are just trying to keep up with the back orders. As a distributor we are trying desperately to give our customers alternatives for product they ordinarily use, but we are finding dead ends just like the rest of the industry.

There are shortages in plastisol inks, water-based inks, aluminum frames, adhesives used in all sorts of textile decoration, chemicals for reclaiming screens, emulsion, and much more.

What's the solution?

We all wish we had the answer...but there are small things we can do as business partners to work through the shortages:

  1. Don't lose your cool - This is no one's fault. We can't blame another country, manufacturers, distributors, or even our purchasing agents. This escalated much faster than most of us could have predicted and if we have calm, constructive conversation on solutions with our partners in the industry we can work through this.

  2. Don't overstock - We all want to protect our business, and we all want to thrive, but if companies start buying up all the stock and leaving none for others, it will not be good for our industry or our economy. And at the end of the day, we are all are doing our best to provide for families. As a distributor we strive every day to provide stock for all of our customers, not just the big accounts. 

  3. Conservation - We don't even need to go into this subject because we are all doing this out of necessity. Just a friendly reminder to look at your process to see if there is anyway you can be more economical in the use of chemicals, emulsions, and inks used for screen printing. Instead of buying new screens and using more aluminum, maybe its time to look retentionable screens. Not only will they save on aluminum, but you also will be able to get better quality prints by controlling the tension of your screens.

  4. Diversification - Currently we aren't seeing stock issues in Direct-to-garment inks, so if you aren't in this arena you may want to take a look at it. We aren't saying that this will be the case forever, but for now we have ink and our manufacturer EPSON is telling us that they can keep up with the current demand.

Here are just a few of the bullet points we have received from our manufacturers:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains the largest contributor to shortages of key raw materials, such as PVC resins, plasticizers and pigments. This worldwide event impacted so many areas including product demand, as plants and other facilities were forced to close. Demand remains high due to a recovering economy; however, resources are limited in some instances due to a major interruption in the normal flow of import, export, supply and demand.

  • Supply for ink and emulsion manufacturers was also impacted by the winter storm in Texas in 2021 and the hurricanes this past summer, which forced further closure of production plants. As a result, many of our raw material producers are busy repairing their facilities and are not to full capacity

  • Cargo ships are still off the coast of California and many other ports are jam packed. A t-shirt distributor had told us at one point there were 11,000 containers floating for days in the ocean, waiting to pull up to the dock.

  • Aluminum is at a shortage due to the shut down of facilities during the pandemic and now with the influx of green energy initiatives much of the supply is being used in that industry, worldwide.

We will do our best to relay information on inventory and the hopeful return to business as normal. Stay Tuned

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