How to Get Your Injection Molded Parts On-Time and Keep Your Production Lines Running

Posted by Liz Lipply on Feb 16, 2021 10:26:49 AM

The reason for injection molding delays is that resins – the materials that your plastic parts are made from – are in short supply. With lead times for resins increasing and their cost going up, it’s only natural that your injection molded parts will face the same challenges.

resin shortage and lead times

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Increased lead times and prices are significant obstacles for any industry. The problem is that these challenges may not be going anywhere anytime soon. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a delay in resin production while simultaneously causing demand to skyrocket. Not only are plants slowing down during the pandemic, but many US companies are also reshoring production. Couple that with winter maintenance shutdowns and outages – both planned and unplanned – and you have the perfect storm for a volatile market.

Now, everyone is scrambling to get their resins quickly, and many companies are being left behind in the process. That means that, in the fast-paced world of modern industry, manufacturers relying on quality resins are going to face:

  • Delayed timelines
  • Lower profit margins
  • Slowed production

That’s why the resin experts at Ferriot are here to help you plan for success by meeting these challenges head-on so that you can keep your production lines running.

How is Lead Time Being Affected?

When everything is running smoothly, resin lead times are often rather reasonable. After sending in a purchase order, you could expect a resin in only a few weeks, a month at most. Quick resin lead times mean that you get your parts faster, and your business can continue running smoothly.

Current lead times may not look so bad at first. Quoting a lead time of about 4-5 weeks is pretty standard in the current financial climate… but those lead times are misleading. As the COVID-19 pandemic causes waves in the chain of supply and demand, that 4-week lead time can turn into 8 weeks a day later, and then 12 weeks the next. Before long, those initial 4 weeks will have passed with no end in sight.

Without the resin, you can’t make the injection molded parts that you need. The impact of the current pandemic has done a real number on manufacturers, causing many of them to put a halt on projects and hold off on any decision making until things settle down.

What Resins are Being Hit the Hardest?

When it comes to resin selection, there are two main categories of resins: commodity resins and engineered resins. Depending on which type of resin you need, you’ll face a slightly different market with its own issues.

If you’re working with commodity resins, you are most likely working with one of the following three choices:

  • Polyethylene
  • Polypropylene
  • Polystyrene

These commodity resins have been facing increasing challenges with lead times and prices since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these more general resins are so closely tied with many different applications and products, they are the resins that are affected the most by the supply/demand cycle. Currently, polyethylene and polypropylene resins are even harder to get than polystyrene resins.

Engineered resins, also referred to as custom resins, are resins that are tailored to a specific application or product. Since these resins often lack the mass production of typical commodity resins, it has only been in the last couple of months that we’ve really seen a significant spike in lead times and prices.

What makes the selection process especially difficult for engineered resins is that you usually pay when the resin ships, not at the time of the purchase order like you typically do with commodity resins. This means that the price can go up as lead times are drawn out. Now, not only are you waiting a few months instead of a few weeks for your resin, but you’re also paying more for it than you expected.

No matter how or why a resin costs more or takes longer to get, all of these things will directly affect the lead times and prices of their resulting plastic parts.

How Do I Get My Production Up-And-Running Faster?

If you want to overcome the current challenges of the resin market, then you’ll want to partner with a resin selection expert like Ferriot.

In order to keep our customers competitive, we’re implementing a number of key initiatives to help mitigate the effects of the current pandemic on your production lines. The goal is to mitigate downtime and allow you to push forward even in these challenging times.

Controlling the Controllable

We can’t control what other companies do or how the market shifts. However, there is some work that we can do upfront to help you get your resins as quickly and as cost-effectively as can be.

By partnering with the injection molding experts at Ferriot early on, we can help streamline your time to market. We can also help to manage resin lead times through our supply agreements and by ordering as soon as you select a resin.

Planning for Unpredictability

If you want to plan for success in a changing market, you need to remain agile. That means having a backup plan.

As you are planning out your design, the resin experts at Ferriot can work with you to come up with a backup resin (or two!) that can still fulfill your design needs. Specifying more than one resin on your prints is the most important thing that you can do if you want to ensure that you get your injection molded parts as fast as possible.

By selecting multiple resins, if your first resin choice is too costly or has an exorbitantly long lead time, you can still get a usable resin within your desired time frame. That flexibility also helps to manage any risk of a resin being discontinued or being single sourced.

Specifying multiple potential resins gives you the flexibility to continue production on existing products, as well launch any new designs. Ferriot can also help you to negotiate better resin prices while safeguarding against rising costs by locking down prices earlier.

To learn more about getting the right resin for the job, take a look at Ferriot’s Injection Molding Resin Selection Workbook for more information.

Learn more:

Download the Tip Sheet Seven Ways to Cut Costs on Injection Molded Parts

Topics: Company Culture, Injection Molding, resin

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Specialized engineering assistance, complex thermoplastic material development, injection molding, finishing, contract manufacturing, and commitment to total quality management.

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