Knowledge Center Article

Supply Chain Problems? Use Engineered Plastics and Polyurethane Instead of Stainless Steel

Supply chains continue to be disrupted by the ongoing pandemic and its repercussions, causing widespread shortages, delays, and substantial price increases impacting nearly every industry possible.

Many materials may be irreplaceable, but not steel and more specifically stainless steel. With the help of OMNI Technologies’ high-performance resins, OEMs have been able to increase the effectiveness of their processing equipment avoiding the delays caused by the global supply chain disruptions.

OMNI Technologies provides another solution for OEMs through our high-performance polyurethane and resins. With a fraction of the lead time compared to steel, learn how you can avoid supply chain issues by replacing your stainless steel parts with polymers from OMNI.

What’s Causing the Supply Chain Disruption?

Supply chain shortages started during the early pandemic due to factory shutdowns and lower production capacity due to social distancing mandates. As production slowed, demand only increased as consumer buying patterns changed.

As consumers began to spend more on shipping items, and less on travel, the surge in demand clogged the goods transportation systems worldwide. Not to mention the ship that became stuck in the Suez Canal in March of 2021, blocking a channel that is believed to support 10% of global commercial maritime traffic, an important thoroughfare for many metals, not just steel. (Source)

Another cause for the supply chain disruption is that a lot of manufacturers run ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing processes. This means they keep a lean inventory of materials, and the shortage of one item may cause a complete plant shutdown. “You have a supply chain that has been built on a premise of being lean and efficient and that works great when things are operating smoothly,” Ohio State University Logistics professor Keely Croxton says. “But as soon as there’s a glitch in the supply chain, these lean supply chains become brittle and break.” (Source) OEMs unable to get a certain raw material for a project could experience significant delays by that one material.

The workforce shortage needs to be considered as well. In 2021, the trucking industry estimated that it is short 80,000 truck drivers due to pandemic-induced retirements and resignations. (Source) This shortage of workers can lead to extreme delays in what would otherwise be a speedy logistics method.

A Sharp Price Increase

It’s simple: increased demand and decreased production caused a strain on the supply chain. Add in a labor shortage, “just-in-time” manufacturing, and an ongoing global pandemic, it’s no surprise since March of 2020, steel prices have increased over 300%.

Not only does the price increase due to a shortage, but automotive OEMs may also experience costly related charges elsewhere due to delays: “A line stoppage costs upwards of $50 million per week to an OEM” (Source), and the same goes for CPGs.

According to The American Iron and Steel Institute, steel production hit more than 73 million net tons as of Oct 2021, a 20.2% increase since October 2020. This higher demand and lack of skilled workers (yes, the labor shortage extends to many industries) has left steelmakers struggling to keep up. As a result, steel prices have continued to skyrocket for a consecutive 14 months, while also remaining in short supply for 10 months (Source).

Fortunately, there’s another solution for OEMs.

A Different Solution for OEMs

Since 1979, OMNI technologies has worked with OEMs and product designers to create solutions with the material formation to fit their exact needs. We service the packaging and processing industry by providing start to finish engineered plastic solutions.

Benefits to Engineered Plastics and Polyurethane
Cost and Energy Savings

As we already explored, the cost of metal is on the rise. With significant supply shortages and increased demand, there does not seem to be an end in sight to these supply chain challenges.

Engineered polymers are less expensive from the start and don’t need welding, machining, or other expensive processes. Not only are you saving money from the product itself, but your operating costs also have the opportunity to be decreased due to the energy savings.

Given engineered plastics are roughly 1/7 the weight of steel, your process is sure to operate more efficiently and with less energy without the excess weight. An added bonus is the noise energy savings: metal generates noise while polyurethane absorbs it.

Quality and Customization

Stainless steel does not offer the flexibility to optimize multiple physical properties, limiting the design options, and becoming very costly to manufacture. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is easier to handle and more customizable.

At OMNI, we offer 20+ different color options and have the ability to manufacture polyurethane products from a 20 SHORE A to an 85 SHORE D. Our polyurethane is abrasion, impact, and tear-resistant – giving you and your team the reliable, sturdy parts to succeed day in and day out. Our products tolerate a wide range of operating conditions allowing them to perform in even the harshest of environments.

Polyurethane also has the ability to be sanitized meeting USDA, FDA, and other sanitary compliance requirements. Being a non-porous material, engineered polymers do not allow liquid or air to pass through, discouraging bacteria growth and preventing product contamination.

For a more in-depth look at the benefits to OMNI technologies, read more in our 6 Reasons Why Molded Parts Made From Plastics Or Polyurethane Are Better For Manufacturing blog post or video below:

OMNI Technologies Solutions

At OMNI, we work with you during the manufacturing process. We have design and manufacturing capabilities that allow us to create prototypes and superior material compositions for our clients. We have full machining capabilities and tooling that allow everything to be completed in-house.

Our many methods of molding and production allow our service and quality to be top of the line. We are able to collaborate and customize a solution that helps our clients increase profits through product performance.

By taking this step and housing all of our processes under one roof, we are able to make the relatively short lead time of engineered plastics even shorter – another factor helping us avoid these supply chain issues.

No matter your project, our innovative team at OMNI can help you customize and deliver your solution on time and at an affordable price. We have the design knowledge to produce the highest quality product with superior functionality and performance. We are ready to collaborate with you to identify the best solution – from design and material selection to execution and delivery. Contact us today to discover how OMNI can help you avoid supply chain disruptions.

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