Supply chain lead times reaching 12 months, industry warns

The Roads and Highways Industry Forum (RHIF) - an alliance of industry bodies - has highlighted ongoing supply chain issues, stating that lead times for some parts have reached 12 months.

The RHIF - which includes the Institute of Highway Engineers, the Highways Sector Council, the ARTSM and ITS UK - said that manufacturer and supplier partners face 'difficulties in sourcing raw and processed materials including aluminium, steel, semiconductors, LEDs and other electronic components, plastics and of course energy itself'.  

Lead times on some semi-conductors are now said to be over 12 months, with supply chain issues exacerbated following the global COVID crisis.

The surge in demand post-COVID, the wider impact of the war in Ukraine and ongoing differing recovery rates in different countries means the supply chain is struggling to deliver the components needed in a timely way, the RHIF said in a statement.

RHIF chair Kealie Franklin said: 'While we will strive to deliver promptly, there will be occasions where this is not possible. We ask that scheme designers, purchasing managers, and users of traffic control and ITS equipment work with us and also work with your own internal chains of management to manage demand and accommodate flexibility so we can all work our way back to stable and normal supply.'

One ITS supplier in the UK has likened the shortages to being 'like a supermarket on a sunny bank holiday – you pop in for barbecue food and it’s all sold out.

'We’re seeing the same thing in the highways industry.'

The RHIF explained the situation in the market: 'While suppliers are looking to increase production, it will take months or even years to add new fabrication facilities, so they are either putting the product on allocation, or making the lead time much longer than it has previously been. So rather than products arriving in six to eight weeks, it might suddenly extend to 30 to 40 weeks.'

Highways bodies are understood to be trying to mitigate the supply issues by increasing their stock holds, so they can be certain they can respond to demand and have the components they need.

However, they urge end customers to offer a longer-term view of likely demand to help companies to invest in holding extra component stock with certainty that it will actually have orders for the products when the components arrive.

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