In late January, we reported that an international steel shortage was beginning to impact production at Draper and other U.S. companies.
Although there is still uncertainty about global steel demand exceeding supply, we believe the worst is behind us and we have weathered the situation as well as could be expected. We also have plans in place that we believe will help us address future gaps in supply.
However, another supply situation is now impacting gym equipment manufacturing. A shortage of foam and raw materials to make foams since late fall of 2020 is beginning to affect wall pad and other gym padding production.
Initially, shortages were tied to COVID-19 as refineries reduced production and staffing levels. This was in response to lower demand for gas and oil due to people working from home and not traveling.
The massive winter storm that hit Texas and the Gulf coast in February only exacerbated the situation, damaging electrical and water infrastructure and shutting down oil refineries. Those shutdowns stopped production of gas and oil and also by-products used in the manufacture of foam.
Refineries have been slow to get back online, and according to a recent S&P Global blog post, it could take the rest of 2021 to allow production to catch up to already high demand. Shortages are affecting many industries:
- Car and Truck seat production – shutting down assembly lines
- Furniture production
- Mattress and bedding production
- Gymnasium pad production
Foam suppliers and fabricators have begun invoking what is called “force majeure.” This allows suppliers to temporarily suspend contractual obligations due to unforeseeable circumstances. In addition, large allocations of foam are going to auto and furniture industries, making it even more difficult to find a reliable supply.
Draper is working closely with multiple suppliers to try and meet requirements, but we have been experiencing substantial delivery delays, and in many instances the quality of foam we do receive is far below expectations.
Although these shortages have not measurably impacted foam used for Class-A Fire rated pads, we expect this will occur in the very near future.
We are monitoring the situation closely and will keep customers updated as information becomes available. However, the situation is volatile, and we often have very short notice of supply problems.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions, you can reach out to your Draper representative. Click here for our contact page.
For more information and details about foam shortages you can view source materials at: