Disrupted Supplier Base in The Food + Sanitary Markets

Posted on: October 27, 2021

Pandemics are nothing new to the world, but as society becomes increasingly globalized, more and more industries are reliant on suppliers around the world for their products. This includes the food and sanitation industries, which are suffering unprecedented disruption due to the Coronavirus pandemic and its cascading effects on manufacturing, logistics, and supply.

Even some items that we may have taken for granted are in short supply. Right now, one of those “sure bet” items that has always had available stock is sanitary tubing. Often, manufacturers would have miles worth of sanitary tubing coiled away in crates, ready to ship whenever and wherever it was needed.

Unfortunately, several pressures have put a damper on this supply. Isolation and the closure of many food venues have led to an increased demand for food outside of the usual fast-food logistical chains. This puts increasing demand on food production pipelines, which, in turn, requires more load, expansion, and repair for mechanisms in the industry. Furthermore, major projects, expansions, upgrades, and repairs were pushed off in 2020, and their resurgence in 2021 has dramatically increased demand as well.

Increased demand would be no problem, even welcomed, under normal circumstances. Manufacturers could simply scale up their own operations to meet that demand. However, the pandemic has affected those companies as well. Isolation, outbreaks, and risk mitigation have forced many factories into low operations or complete closures, with uncertainty looming on the horizon.

“…all the sanitary tubing produced within the United States is coming from one of two manufacturers: Rath Gibson and United Industries. These two companies not only produce sanitary tubing used within the food, beverage, and pharma industries but also tubing and piping for the automotive, HVAC, and several other industries as well.” – Mike Lovelace, Sales Manager at Steel & O’Brien.

If even that wasn’t enough, the supply lines for those manufacturers are struggling as well.

“To make matters worse, a major strip manufacturer that provides roughly 30% of the raw material for tubing has stopped making 304 and 316L. This has left tube manufacturers with no way to produce tubing.” – Mike Lovelace.

Supply of raw materials or even finished tubing from foreign markets is not available either; thin margins plus the increased cost of logistics and shipping make even domestic manufacturing a difficult proposition and foreign orders a non-starter.

Consequences for Anderson Dahlen Customers

Many people have approached us as a potential supplier for sanitary tubing in recent months. Unfortunately, with supply lines and shortages being what they are, tubing orders are backed up 6-8 weeks or more.

Priority for Anderson Dahlen orders is as follows:

  • Internal usage. If our company cannot function to manufacture components and parts, we can’t help anyone.
  • Existing customers. Those with existing relationships, outstanding orders, and ongoing shipments claim what is available beyond our own usage.
  • New customers. We’re always available to be contacted about new inquiries for manufacturing mechanisms, custom fabrication, high-end scientific machines, and other precision engineering.
  • Resale. There’s simply no sanitary tubing left to resell.

There’s good news on the horizon. The pandemic is slowing and will, eventually, allow our production and supply chains to return to normal. While logistics and shipping are struggling and will likely continue to do so for months, more and more manufacturers are navigating the current crisis and finding new ways to provide their products to their customers. Current estimates indicate that, for sanitary tubing at least, supply lines may be back to normal within another six to eight months.

Of course, we’re in just as uncertain a position as everyone else. We’re doing the best we can with what we have, and we’re always available to engineer a custom solution to work around shortages and problems with supply. Contact us today to discuss your needs, and we’ll see what we can do together.