These are certainly surreal times. After more than a year of adapting to the COVID crisis, we as a nation are finally coming out the other side — for better or worse, ready to meet tomorrow.
One thing’s for sure: It’s not the same world — probably never will be again. And this affects how you should purchase fin tubes.
Masks are coming off, literally and figuratively. The economy’s heating up like a heat exchanger brimming to boil.
Nevertheless, industries continue to face unprecedented challenges. The country is in the midst of a labor crunch — qualified personnel are difficult to find. And in hand with labor shortages come supply chain deficits. It’s not easy to find what you need when you need it — and the cost can be anyone’s guess.
“As the pandemic has hampered factory operations and sown chaos in global shipping, many economies around the world have been bedeviled by shortages of a vast range of goods — from electronics to lumber to clothing,” write Peter S. Goodman and Niraj Chokshi in the New York Times. “In a time of extraordinary upheaval in the global economy, Just In Time is running late.”
In our mission to deliver quality finned tubes to our customers, Energy Transfer is by no means immune to the challenges of the marketplace. Fortunately, we’re well positioned and have an advantage over many of our competitors, but the market for fin tubes has become the proverbial Wild West.
More often than not, you’re shooting from the hip, trying to stay ahead of the stampede.
Supply Chain Scarcities in a Rebounding Economy
Our suppliers face the same worker shortages experienced by many businesses in the wake of COVID, and this in turn limits what they can produce. Many companies have reorganized in the post-COVID economy. This affects the materials that we purchase to deliver your fin tubes.
Big companies have become more strategic about their supply. Many have discontinued products that have lower profit margins — specialty products become harder to come by. Once you may have had 10 suppliers to make the copper for a copper fin tube, for example. Now you might have 6 — and their demands are through the roof.
And with the scarcity in supply comes cost increases and inflation. We’re particularly seeing spikes in steels and stainless steels, which can affect the price of fin tubes, especially applied finned tubes.
Don’t Assume Yesterday’s Costs for Fin Tubes
Many customers make this mistake when purchasing fin tubes for heat exchangers: They assume budgetary numbers that are no longer real. Throw yesterday’s costs out the window — they are as relevant today as the price of a fin tube bought in 1955.
The current prices for fin tubes are continually changing. Talk to your sales rep at Energy Transfer to discuss updated costs. Our estimators can get you current pricing — but don’t sit on it. The price will likely change tomorrow.
Longer Lead Times? Plan Fin Tubes Sooner
In this heated marketplace, we’ve seen delays — lead times that have tripled and quadrupled. A 3 to 4 week lead time in years past is now delivered in 12 to 16 weeks — all because of a shortage of labor and materials.
The moral of the story is to plan ahead. If you see a job on the horizon, start planning your fin tube ahead of the curve. We do our best to proactively buy materials so we’re ready. But the sooner we know your needs, the faster we can get you what you need.
Because we’re ideally positioned in the marketplace, we buy fin tube materials in larger quantities than most of our competitors. That puts us in a higher ranking in the supply mills and distribution houses. We can get materials quicker, and we can buy at a higher quantity. That’s why we’re able to better get supplies when many of our competitors cannot.
Partnering Together for America’s Future
Nobody’s got a crystal ball — how long today’s labor crunch and material shortages last is anybody’s guess. But for the time being, we have to accept that this is the new norm. Markets will right themselves inevitably, whenever the free market system is allowed to work.
Because one thing is for certain: America will bounce back because we are an amazing country.
At Energy Transfer, we believe in American exceptionalism and the pride of American manufacturing. We’ll do what we do best every day — putting on our boots and going to work, manufacturing fin tubes and delivering for America. Like much of the country, we believe in quality and hold ourselves up to exceptional standards. We’ll get through this current crisis with good old fashioned American sweat and hard work because that’s what we do best.
At Energy Transfer, we’re proud of the finned tubes we make — we’re proud to be American. We’re excited to get back to work and deliver the fin tubes that power the infrastructure of America.
Whatever you need, we’re here. America is coming back, ready to work.
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