January 2021 Material Trends Update

There are multiple drivers of materials constraints in 2021. First, pent-up consumer demand is driving spikes in products across multiple sectors that were in short supply in 2020 due to the pandemic. The automotive sector is seeing both pent-up demand across all models plus increased demand for electric vehicles. Communications and IoT are also driving demand and 5G will only escalate that as more infrastructure is being installed. WiFi and Bluetooth modules are increasing lead-times and we expect pricing to follow. And COVID-19 continues to drive increases in medical equipment demand. As a result, we feel constraints will continue throughout the year and are starting to see both allocation and price increases.

We are seeing price increases from multiple suppliers. Basic materials costs for PCBs and components have increased, freight costs are up and COVID-19 mitigation is also a cost driver. We are also keeping a close eye on component quality, as we’ve seen failure rates go up when suppliers reach capacity.

The color-coded chart highlights trends by commodity. Here are the specific trends we are seeing based on the information we are receiving from distribution.

  • Discretes: Pricing and lead-times increasing across the board; however, there are still a few manufacturers w/stable lead-times and prices
  • SM Gen Capacitors (ceramic): Mix of increasing pricing and lead-times, still some stable lead-times and pricing
  • Passives: Stable price and lead-times of 14-16 wks, however, passives are moving more into a yellow/orange category and we expect to see a move into red by mid-year
    • Trimmers & pots – stable price and lead-time 10-14 wks
  • Electrolytic: mix of increasing lead-times and prices increasing; some still stable
  • Capacitors (film): Mix of stable pricing and lead-times, some increasing lead-times and pricing
  • Tantalum:  mix of stable pricing, lead-times running 14-52 wks and increasing lead-times and pricing
  • Polymer tantalum: Mix of stable and increasing pricing and lead-times
  • Filters: mix of stable and increasing lead-times and pricing
  • Inductors: majority stable pricing and lead-times, few increasing lead-times and pricing
  • Fixed Resistors: mix of stable and increasing lead-times and prices
  • Resistor Networks: mix of stable and increasing lead-times and prices
  • Surface Mount General Capacitors (ceramic): stable pricing, lead-times 20-24 wks
  • Batteries: stable pricing on majority, stable lead-times 8-38wks
  • Sensors/Switches:
    • Diodes Inc.: lead-time is increasing 12-14 wks, pricing stable
    • Ams: lead-times 8-30 wks, stable sensor prices and lead-time
    • NXP: increasing lead-times and prices 32 week LT for sensors
    • On Semi: increasing lead-times, pricing stable
    • Renesas: lead-times up to 20 weeks, stable pricing
    • ST Micro: lead-times stable around 20 weeks, pricing increasing
    • Infineon: 25-plus week lead-times on switches, pricing stable
    • Melexis Sensors: lead-time stable at 16-46 weeks, price stable
    • TE: lead-time stable at 30 wks, pricing is stale
  • Fans: mostly stable, few increasing lead-time and prices
  • Connectivity:
    • AMS: RFID chips lead-time up to 30 wks, pricing stable
    • Laird: WiFi modules stable; antennas, pricing and lead-time increasing
  • High end:
    • Cypress: lead-time and prices increasing for Bluetooth modules, lead-times increasing across high end
    • Microchip: lead-time and prices increasing
    • NXP: pricing is increasing, lead-time stable for all except chip solutions; high end parts, automotive on allocation
    • ST Micro: increasing for 8 and 32 bit mcu lead-times
    • Murata: prices stable, lead-time increasing 30 weeks

Here are the manufacturers we are monitoring closely for increases in lead-times and pricing:

  • ST Micro – price increases across all lines, allocation has begun
  • Panasonic – shipping delays causing increased lead times
  • NXP – increased prices
  • Silicone Labs – increased prices
  • Microchip – no cancellations within a 90-day window.

Tips for Mitigating Supply Chain Constraints

The challenge with 2021 will be the variety of drivers of materials constraints. Unlike previous years, constraints aren’t being driven by demand changes in a single industry or region. Different drivers will be impacting different commodities throughout the year. The team at Burton Industries has the supply chain management expertise, systems and engineering support necessary to help navigate these challenges. That said, mitigating supply chain constraints requires a coordinated effort from both Burton’s team and its customers’ teams.

At a minimum, we ask all our volume production customers to give 26+ weeks of commitments based on component lead-times.  A rolling 12-month forecast is preferred. We modify that expectation for customers with legacy products that are built on an as needed or a few times a year basis.

Here are a few tips to further mitigate material availability/supply chain disruption issues:

  • Put Burton Industries’ design team in the design cycle from a Bill of Materials (BOM) standpoint as early as possible. We offer a free BOM scrub service to existing customers to help them assess risk in critical to design components.
  • Avoid single source parts or those with limited sources—our team can help you identify alternates.
  • If a part has been labelled not recommended for new product use, it should also be avoided as its obsolescence risk is high.

Our supply chain team is reviewing a weekly constraint report to ensure fast action as conditions change. When new constraints are identified, purchasing, program management and engineering review options for alternate suppliers and/or equivalent substitutions and inform customers of the available options for addressing the issue. Watch our blog for further updates on trends and the tools we are using to address availability issues and/or pricing increases.