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IEEE T&D topic of the day

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Apr 28, 2022
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Today as I talked to customers, manufacturers, the US Department of Commerce and others, the topic that reoccurred in every single conversation was lead times.

Transformers that had a 8 week lead time two years ago are now 18 to 24 months, larger transformers are "we will call you when it is ready".

Global demand is up, manufacturing capacity is down, and many small low cast parts are just not available, from nuts and bolts to semi-conductors to the right steel.

Did you know that no steel manufacturer in North America makes electrical steel? No it has to come from Japan or China. It uses a different process, so a plant has to be tooled for it. No operating plant in the US, Canada or Mexico is tooled to make it - without the steel no transformers, or other major electrical equipment can be built. Plants in the US are closed, not making transformers, because they can't get steel!

The lead time issues are only going to get worse, likely adding another 6 to 12 months as large customers with good long range planning "buy slots" from the manufacturers for equipment. Right now some manufacturers are taking orders for delivery in 2032.

No manufacturer sees lead times returning to what they were 2 years ago - EVER! This is the new normal.

If we don't figure out how to fix this there is ZERO chance that the US (or any country) will meet the climate goals.

We need to strengthen on shore manufacturing and with it mining and processing of materials.

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Thank Doug for the Post!
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