Lead times are inevitable in manufacturing; however they may be difficult to accept for your project. When you’re working on a new application, waiting on carbon graphite seals or bearings can be frustrating, and the delay may even cost your company money.
However, lead times don’t have to be an issue as you work on your latest project. Understanding the factors that contribute to carbon graphite lead times can help you regain control of the product development process, ensuring you’re never waiting around for parts you needed yesterday.
What Factors Impact Lead Times for Carbon Graphite Manufacturing?
Certain aspects of the carbon graphite manufacturing process can significantly impact lead times. Knowing these factors and working them into your product development process is the best way to ensure lead times don’t put you behind schedule.
Raw Material Availability
In recent years, supply chain uncertainty has been a common issue across virtually every industry, including carbon graphite manufacturers. Even when the supply chain is more predictable, the availability of raw materials always plays a part in lead times.
In order to fulfill your order of carbon graphite parts and components, the manufacturer must be able to acquire the necessary materials. This is especially true if your components require the carbon graphite to be impregnated with other materials such as resins, antimony, babbitt, copper, or silver.
Needing a Custom Grade
Any reputable carbon graphite manufacturer will have proprietary grades of carbon graphite. St. Marys Carbon, for example, has over 400 proprietary grades of carbon graphite to leverage. However, certain applications such as high altitudes or extreme temperatures may require custom carbon graphite solutions.
In these instances, the proprietary grades are modified to accommodate the demands of your application. Naturally, this process takes more time than simply selecting a readily available carbon graphite grade, so the lead time will be longer. This is especially true if testing proves that additional tweaks to the grade are necessary and the process has to be repeated.
Even if you don’t need a custom carbon graphite solution for your application, there’s no guarantee that the base grade you require will be in stock. If the material is in stock, then the manufacturer can proceed with your order without issue.
However, if the material is out of stock, the manufacturer will be required to make more before your order can be fulfilled. This type of situation obviously is not ideal, but it’s bound to happen from time to time.
Testing is crucial to product development success, but it does have a downside: It takes time.
When ordering new carbon graphite parts or components, they often must be tested to ensure they will work as needed. However, testing can sometimes be bypassed if the manufacturer’s spec sheets align with the requirements of your application.
If testing is necessary, receiving, testing, and approving the sample parts can take up valuable time. This is especially true if you’re unable to perform the test yourself and must rely on a third party.
How Can You Reduce Manufacturing Lead Time?
Lead times are unavoidable, but there are things you can do to minimize issues and expedite lead times:
1. Build Lead Times into Your Schedule
If lead times are a frequent source of frustration for you, building them into your product development timeline can help. It’s easy to hope for the best-case scenario, but it’s better to plan for the worst. That way, if there’s an issue that extends a part’s lead time, your schedule isn’t crippled. Then, if everything goes according to plan, you can finish ahead of schedule.
2. Work With a Trusted Manufacturer
If you often require custom carbon graphite solutions, finding a reliable manufacturer that specializes in your industry will really make a difference. They’ll understand your needs, won’t waste valuable time learning your industry, and can consistently meet delivery times.
Even if you’re not reliant on custom solutions, relying on a trusted manufacturer is beneficial. The amount of time spent coordinating with multiple manufacturers can be staggering, and lead times often suffer as a result.
3. Avoid Manufacturers that Outsource
When looking for a reliable manufacturer, make sure to ask whether they outsource any aspect of their process. If they do not produce their own carbon graphite grades or only handle the machining, lead times are often longer. Outsourcing adds additional companies to the mix, which creates more opportunities for delays.
Similarly, working with a domestic manufacturer is also beneficial. Shipping parts from overseas or even just across borders takes time and delays are common. With a domestic manufacturer, the entire process is streamlined.
4. Clear Communication with Your Supplier
Communication is essential for minimizing lead times. This is especially true when you’re having your manufacturer create new parts. Getting the manufacturer all the necessary information in a timely manner ensures that you aren’t holding up the process and also allows them to hit the ground running.
Work With a Reliable, Experienced Carbon Graphite Manufacturer
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid lead time delays, but working with a reliable and experienced carbon graphite manufacturer can help minimize your risk.
St. Marys Carbon is one of just a few companies that develops and mixes its own carbon graphite grades, ensuring that we can develop products that meet the needs of your specific application or industry.
Not to mention, our commitment to total customer service and industry-leading delivery times will ensure you never have to halt product development to wait for your parts. Contact us today or request a quote to see first hand why so many engineers trust our carbon graphite solutions.