Supply Chain Issues and Material Pricing Escalations

To Our Valued AFSA Members,

With the continuing challenges facing our industry related to supply chain issues and material pricing escalations, I feel compelled to reach out to our members. Production and shipping constraints have led to longer delays beyond historical norms, and the impact to your projects and your companies is unchartered water, to say the least.

As the world economies dealt with the pandemic in 2020, many manufacturers started to shuttle production and lay off workers. As economies have started and continue to rebound, tremendous pressures have been put on the suppliers and manufacturers to meet the demand for materials and, this problem reaches far beyond the fire protection industry. The accelerated pace of economic recovery has exacerbated the problem for both foreign and domestic manufacturing.

The demand for goods and services has added pressures on pricing. Domestic labor shortages and operating costs are affecting production and transportation. Some domestic policies and programs have created a lack of available labor, which has compounded an already difficult supply/demand situation.

The current economic, political, and social issues facing our country continue to put pressure on our industry and our everyday lives. Shipping, freight, logistical services, and record-setting energy and fuel costs will persist and continue to impact supply chain issues and the cost of goods. The competition for workers is another factor impacting manufacturers and suppliers, which, in turn, influences pricing.

We know your businesses are facing labor shortages while competing with large and small businesses from other industries offering wage and benefit packages exceeding customary compensation rates in the fire protection industry. Many contractors and even some suppliers have been hoarding materials in anticipation of shortages to balance with the need to meet backlog obligations.

Progress may seem slow right now, but we are making headway in many of these challenges. Transparency is always the goal of AFSA and the Manufacturers and Suppliers Council. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise our members so you may plan and communicate with your vendor partners.

“Our members are at the heart of everything we do” is more than just a tagline. It is our primary focus! We are stronger together, and together we will survive these challenging times. Our training programs and outreach to the next generation of fire sprinkler industry professionals are designed to help you meet your challenges and we encourage your continued participation with your local chapters.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Caputo, CET, CFPS, is president of AFSA. He currently serves as chair of NFPA 24/291 Private Water Supply Piping Systems committee and as an alternate member of NFPA 13 Sprinkler System Installation Criteria committee. Caputo has written and presented seminars throughout the world on fire protection and life-safety systems and has developed AFSA and NFPA education and training materials. Contact him via email at bcaputo@firesprinkler.org.

 


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