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What Causes Delays in the Connector Manufacturing Process?

It’s an unfortunate scenario to watch time and money slip away as you wait on late or missing parts for your finished products. But it’s a reality many businesses are familiar with in the connector manufacturing process — especially with the current issues plaguing the global supply chain.

Delays in the connector manufacturing process and the backlogs those delays have caused have only worsened over time. At the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the connector industry’s backlog was about six weeks long. By fall 2021, that number climbed to over 12 weeks. Flash forward to February 2022, and the connector backlog had stretched to 14.7 weeks, according to recent industry reports.

Behind these long lead times are myriad causes: aforementioned supply chain disruptions, material shortages and labor shortages, to name a few. Alongside these economic variables are other causes connected to suppliers, from the number of suppliers businesses work with to the quality provided.

As we dive deeper into the reasoning behind connector backlogs, we’ll share what you can do to ease the risk of delays for your products.

Supply Chain Disruptions

A host of reasons are behind the supply chain disruptions plaguing the global economy, many of which have roots tracing back to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Factories shuttered and slowed production early in 2020 amid spiking COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, particularly in major manufacturing hubs like China, South Korea and Taiwan. Shipping companies cut their schedules – initially in response to factory closures, then as new challenges emerged with travel restrictions.

Photos of cargo ships stuck in congested ports and empty grocery store shelves were just the tip of the iceberg as the gap between supply and demand widened across almost all industries. The impact of those early months continues to reverberate today in the form of raw material shortages, labor shortages and logistical bottlenecks in the connector manufacturing process.

The cost of raw materials used in connector manufacturing – a list that includes copper, steel and thermoplastics – are near record highs, but that isn’t slowing demand. Meanwhile, recent reports indicate record numbers of unfilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S., averaging more than half a million open positions at any given time since late 2020, with similar labor shortages seen around the world.

Supply chain disruptions and the reasons behind them are a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight. In fact, analysts predict continued disruptions throughout 2022 at the very least. While much of this is controlled by global factors, working with a connector supplier like Amerline that leans on in-house, domestic operations for testing, inspecting and shipping, as well as customization, can help reduce lead times and keep your projects on track.

Working with Multiple Suppliers

It’s common to work with a team of different suppliers within the connector manufacturing process – one for product sourcing, one for product engineering, one for quality assurance testing and so on. However, having this many chefs in the kitchen, so to speak, can extend the production process: a delay from one part of the supplier chain can slow the entire process.

Beyond that, working with multiple connector suppliers also introduces the additional challenges of managing several vendor relationships and handling multiple lines of communication between  these parties. This creates more administrative work for businesses and leaves more room for miscommunication.

Trading in a host of suppliers for a single circular connector provider instantly streamlines the connector manufacturing process. With all the moving parts and major players under one umbrella to accommodate cable assemblies and box builds, overmolding, quality assurance testing and inventory management, you can minimize delays caused by inefficiencies and have the right connectors available to you, when you need them.

Product Quality Issues

Production delays and product quality issues often go hand-in-hand — and the connector industry is no exception to the rule.

Consider the case where a welding OEM manufacturer receives a series of circular connectors, only to find they don’t meet clearance and creepage standards, which in turn delays their product launch. Or a construction equipment manufacturer receives a series of circular connectors that fail to pass submersion tests required by their stringent compression standards.

The first layer of defense against quality issues is working with a supplier that offers technically sound, military style connectors that are manufactured and tested to withstand the harshest conditions. Then, there’s the customization part of the equation. Working with a supplier that offers both stock and custom circular connectors is advantageous as in-house customizations help preserve product quality while minimizing costs and delays in the connector manufacturing process.

Minimize Connector Manufacturing Delays with Amerline

Think of Amerline as a one-stop shop for your circular connector needs. Alongside military style connectors designed, manufactured and tested to endure the harshest conditions, we provide custom engineering and design solutions, as well as quality assurance testing and inventory management programs to support our customers every step of the way. And with expedited delivery options available, we make sure you get what you need when you need it.

These are just some of the advantages that help build the business case for switching connector providers. Find more takeaways here.

Is it time to switch circular connector providers?