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Military Connectors: Navigating Supply Chain & Sourcing Issues

As we’ve discussed in the past, military connectors restrict change. While this sentiment applies to the connector design, it also includes the facility that supplies the connectors. Limitations on the supply of military connectors makes them more difficult to source and obtain — a hurdle that has only been complicated in the wake of the pandemic.

The Restrictive Nature of Who Supplies Military Connectors

When a manufacturer of MIL-SPEC connectors changes one detail about where they source parts from, there’s a domino effect of issues. 

On the one hand, the manufacturer loses its Qualified Product Lists (QPL) approval. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to the loss of existing defense and aerospace contracts while driving away new business. It also means undergoing a costly and time-consuming recertification process to regain QPL status.

The loss of QPL certification can also result in what’s called a stop ship. This is a precautionary measure where defense contractors or government agencies prevent the deployment of products from the manufacturer that has lost QPL status. While the goal is to safeguard against risks of non-compliant material, stop ships inevitability disrupt supply chains and production schedules and force businesses to find new suppliers.

Military Connectors Are Produced in Smaller Batches

With military connectors, all of the benefits of economies of scale are gone. Along with being produced in a specific facility, military connectors have to be produced in specific quantities. These are generally smaller production runs due to military connectors’ tailored requirements, as well as the testing and certification processes they must pass. 

Smaller production runs make military connectors even more expensive to manufacture. This limited output also means that fewer military connectors are available on the market.

The Lingering Effects of the Pandemic

Even as factories that manufacture military connector materials and parts have resumed operations, many still haven’t fully recovered from the pandemic. 

While the demand for military connectors remains steady, labor shortages and logistical bottlenecks have made it difficult for suppliers to keep up with the market. Limited availability paired with higher production costs and increased demand have led to notable price hikes for military connectors.

Loosen Up Restrictions With COTS Connector Alternatives

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) connectors provide a drop-in equivalent to MIL-SPEC connectors without the restrictions. There is added flexibility in where COTS connectors can be manufactured, as well as freedom to produce them in larger quantities. The combination of these elements increases the availability of COTS connectors while also reducing their costs.

Amerline’s AEC connector line features a series of high-quality, dependable connectors that are interchangeable with MIL-SPEC (MS) connectors. While streamlining supply chain processes and saving costs, Amerline’s non-cadmium connectors can also be customized to best suit your application.

We’re ready to help you meet your connector needs. Contact us to request a quote.