In March this year one image symbolised the unprecedented vulnerability and crisis facing polymer supply around the world. The Suez Canal was blocked in both directions by a container ship.
The International Chamber of Shipping estimates that up to $3 billion worth of cargo passes through the canal every day. The canal carries approximately 12% of global trade. Despite this pent-up demand continued related to the coronavirus recovery and weather-related shortages.
Polymer Supply Battered Polymer Demand Rampant
Only a month before a winter storm paralysed the US petrochemical industry. Freezing temperatures triggered wide-spread power outages and plant shutdowns of US Gulf Coast petrochemical facilities.
The US outages had wide-ranging impacts beyond prices and trade for chemicals. Manufacturing supply chains across several sectors faced disruptions due to delays with raw materials including polymers.
Polymer Pricing Index Doubles In A Year
These polymer supply chain disruptions have resulted in higher prices for raw materials and products until the backlog eases.
The PIE Plastixx polymer price index tracks monthly market prices for standard thermoplastics and engineering thermoplastics and has doubled. 2020 already a year when businesses discovered just how vulnerable their supply chains were, with many hit by factory closures and staff shortages, and those with parts from overseas suffering lengthy and costly delays.
We know from previous periods of polymer supply shortages that polymer prices are highly susceptible with rapid price inflation. Whilst these effects are likely to be temporary it is nevertheless a concern for the UK plastics industry. In the last year supply chain disruption is everywhere with both Brexit and the global pandemic having far-reaching implications.
How To Survive the Polymer Supply Shortages
Fighting against this maelstrom of polymer shortages is Hardie Polymers. Hardie’s can source any brand, grade or quantity from their network of over 350 international suppliers, making them the UK’s leading independent distributor of engineering polymers. Despite all the difficulties with these challenges, Hardie continues to use all their supply contacts to help where others cannot.
Fergus Hardie, Managing Director at Hardie Polymers, commented:
“We continue to be inundated with requests for engineering polymers across all sectors. With unprecedented material shortages, our team is working incredibly hard to find any available materials in Europe and get them to our customers. In this current climate even we can’t help everyone, but with companies really struggling , the team are now frequently being called ‘heroes’ and ‘saviours’!”
Credits: Image: Egypt’s Suez Canal blocked by huge container ship – BBC News