As we approach the new year, the DustShield team wanted to share what we’ve seen in the past year and what we expect in 2022 with our partners across the industry.
2021 was an interesting year.
On one hand, DustShield entered the year battling supply chain issues, just like many other organizations. While others were experiencing issues due to overseas shipping and high demand for certain products though, our supply challenges stemmed from the weather.
In early 2021, severe winter storms hit the United States with high winds, freezing temperatures and a lot of snow and ice. It resulted in power outages across the South, temporarily shutting down refineries and processors who contribute to making ABS plastic (the main ingredient in DustShield enclosures). It became very difficult to procure plastic for about half of the year, and virtually impossible for some types/colors of plastic, e.g., gray ABS. By July, supply levels were back to normal.
Now, at the end of 2021, our lead time issues are caused by labor shortages. Just as many other companies have reported, DustShield has had challenges finding and retaining quality employees.
While we have overcome our supply challenges, our customers have not, and it’s greatly affecting how they order enclosures. Before the supply chain crisis really took off, customers would often order their electronics and then order the enclosure as well. That way, when their electronics arrived on site, they would also have an enclosure for it and could deploy it quickly. But now, organizations are having to go outside their regular channels for electronics. For example, a warehouse organization wants to purchase a barcode printer from Company A, but they find out that the lead times are months out and they’re not willing to wait. So, they turn to Company B. This makes it harder for them to order an enclosure though, especially from DustShield since we custom-build our products to the specifications of the electronics going inside. If a company doesn’t know exactly what equipment they’re going to get and when, it makes it difficult for them to order an enclosure until the equipment arrives.
In other industry trends, DustShield has continued to see more and more companies increase their efficiencies by moving electronics where the work is being done. This has resulted in an increase in demand for enclosures to protect those electronics from the harsh manufacturing and warehouse environments. We’ve also seen a continued uptick in demand for traceability equipment, like barcode and scanning equipment and laser and inkjet printers. We’ve also seen more touchscreens and mini PCs being used in manufacturing and warehouse organizations. In addition to manufacturing and warehouse environments, we’ve seen organizations put touchscreens more and more in places they wouldn’t normally be, like outside.
The facts indicate that the issues DustShield and our customers are experiencing will continue well into 2022.
Therefore, it’s imperative for organizations to be proactive when purchasing enclosures. Buy early, because prices are always changing, often rising. You can save money by not waiting. And buy knowing that lead times at most organizations are going to be long–as of December 2021, DustShield lead times were 8 weeks.
While DustShield has been forced to raise our own prices over the past year, we have still been able to maintain our pricing integrity. This means that the price you’re quoted will be the same at the time of placing the order as it will be at the time of shipping.