News

04.05.2021

Supply situation in the cable industry comes to a head

Manufacturers of cables are facing increasing problems in their supply chains. Meanwhile the difficulties are no longer limited to individual raw materials.

As early as February, the ZVEI had pointed out supply problems in the European cable industry with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in the European cable industry. In the meantime, bottlenecks have also occurred with plastics PP (polypropylene), PE (polyethylene), PA (polyamides) as well as silicone and plasticizers. Like PVC, these products are used as insulation and jacket materials. In neighboring trades, supply shortages of plastic granules are now also occurring. Pipe manufacturers are affected here, especially those of cable protection pipes, as are switch and enclosure manufactures in the electrical installation sector. The described bottlenecks in the final markets can still be absorbed by the buffer services of the three-stage distribution system. However, the cable industry does not expect any improvement in the supply situation of plastic precursors before fall.

In addition, the industry is also affected by the Europe-wide shortage of raw materials like wood and steel, but also foils and tapes. Wood is used in the cable industry for drums and for transport blocks, steel is used in reinforcements, and foils and tapes are both material for filling and production as well as packaging materials.

Problems with the supply of primary products do not only affect the cable industry. According to the Ifo Institute, just under two-thirds of electrical companies recently reported shortages of materials. In logistics, scarce and expensive freight capacities are now a major factor. Freight forwarders are working to capacity throughout Europe, and container capacities are severely limited worldwide. The blockade of the Suez Canal and its ongoing effects have exacerbated the situation. For raw materials from Asia, especially in the plastics sector, this means a further significant disruption.

 

Companies organized in the ZVEI are using every possible means to maintain supply chains. ZVEI advises against government intervention as they would not make supply chains more resilient but could reinforce protectionist tendencies and provoke backlash.

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