The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted global supply chains, resulting in widespread component shortages. Local inventories have largely been consumed, leaving our industry scrambling for alternative solutions. As an industry partner, client, or end user we find it imperative that we inform you of the reality surrounding commonly used components as it relates to availability.
At the time this correspondence was drafted, critical operational and inspection components are either unavailable or nearly out of stock. While not exhaustive, these items include things such as the following:
- Boiler Level Controls
- Float Assemblies (all brands, most models)
- Probe Column Assemblies
- Level Controllers
- PLC Components
- I/O Cards
- Relay Modules
- Boiler Hand and Manhole Gaskets
- Boiler Fireside Gaskets
- Safety Shutoff Valve Actuators (electromechanical gas valve actuators)
- Casted Products
- Main Fuel Valve Bodies
- Steam and Water Valve Assemblies (steam, water, gas)
- Pump Body Castings
- Blower Impellers
Our industry has been accustomed to having the ability to acquire critical and operational components in short notice due to the critical nature associated with our products. This ability has all but evaporated due to supply chain delays. What was once commonly available, will now likely carry significant lead times.
As maintenance season quickly approaches, please ensure you have all your inspection materials onsite prior to inspecting. Communicate with your governing inspection agency regarding delays, early and accordingly. Most importantly, do not bypass any boiler-related safety components as a workaround to a failing control; This will potentially result in catastrophic consequences.
We are working diligently on all alternative solutions as we navigate these trying times and will do everything we can to mitigate unplanned downtime.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What is the best way for my plant to navigate these shortages?
A: It is all about getting in line. If you don’t stock components now, get your order in as soon as possible to secure your spot in the production lines. If a component has a nine-month lead time, you want to already be in the queue should failure occur.
Q: Can I rent a boiler if I am unable to secure materials?
A: This a good solution, and we can navigate depending on the specifics of your operation. Rental boiler utilization is at an all-time high, so availability is limited and changing often.
Q: I understand lead times are bad, but am I really not going to be able to get a replacement level float if my hospital is down?
A: Most likely not. We have depleted all available stores of commonly used components, there is almost nothing left. There are few alternatives available, all of which also have long lead times. Preparedness is key, ensuring your facility has the critical spare parts it needs on hand.
Q: When will things return to normal?
A: While impossible to know definitively, we still have a long road ahead. Industry suppliers and experts are reporting that we have yet to reach the worst of it, so expect this to last well beyond the next 12 months.
Q: What can I do in my plant/facility to help?
A: Take good care of your equipment. Most equipment is designed to operate safely for many years, assuming it’s cared for. We have firsthand data that shows the better a plant/facility is maintained, the less unplanned downtime it experiences. Ensure daily checks are done, repair what you can, and operate the equipment within its design parameters.