Three Lessons from GFA Expo 2018
Specialty Silicone Products (SSP) recently attended the 2018 Gasketing/Converting Expo, the industry’s premiere event for gasket fabricators and material converters. From March 19 to 21, SSP showcased EMI shielding elastomers, medical silicones, and other innovative products for sealing and insulation at this conference and tradeshow from the Gasket Fabricators Association (GFA).
The weather in Orlando, Florida was warmer than in other parts of the country, but the entire supply chain is feeling the heat from several trends. Through discussions with gasket fabricators, converters, and other event participants, SSP learned that sales cycles and project timelines are getting longer. At the same time, fabricators are feeling the pinch from the global silicone shortage. Yet there’s some good news, too.
Longer Sales Time and Project Timelines
Many of the companies that SSP met said that sales cycles are now longer than ever. Compliance is driving this trend, but so is the number of decision makers involved. Today, it’s not uncommon for as many as 6 to 8 people to be involved in a sourcing decision. This extends project timelines, of course, but that’s not the only challenge. Because individual decision makers are so busy, resources are spread thin.
The Global Silicone Shortage
The global silicone shortage is another tough trend. Unfortunately, the four largest suppliers of base materials are experiencing issues with raw material availability and manufacturing capacity. Fortunately, SSP has shielded itself – and its customers – from most of the effects. With our industry connections and careful planning, SSP become aware of these challenges months before most other silicone suppliers.
More RFQs for EMI Elastomers
Finally, gaskets fabricators reported an increase in the number of RFQs for EMI elastomers. Specially, more part drawings are calling for MIL-DTL-83528 conductive compounds. As the fabricators we spoke with explained, there are several defense projects that require significant amounts of silver-aluminum fluorosilicone for gaskets that provide EMI shielding, environmental sealing, and fuel resistance.
Typically, these EMI gaskets are cut from molded sheets. The material lead times can be long (sometimes up to 12 weeks) and that’s left fabricators frustrated. Unlike our competitors, however, SSP has more manufacturing options and can supply EMI materials in just 1 or 2 weeks. At a time when sales cycles are long and silicones are in short supply, that’s as welcome as some Florida sunshine in March.