Ready for 2022? It’s on its way, and we’re thinking ahead to some of the biggest metals industry trends we’ll be seeing in the new year. Read on to hear our predictions.
Supply Chain Challenges to Continue
Challenges at all stages of the supply chain will continue to be a factor in 2022. Jeff Cox, vice president at Three D Metals, broke down the anticipated changes between the transformer and utility markets.
“I think we’re going to see a continuation of tightness in both the aluminum and copper coil markets — demand continues to be high,” said Cox.
Currently, mills for those two products are supplying on an allocated basis. While it’s hoped that their production becomes more reliable in 2022, labor challenges continue to be a concern.
For products like bus pipe, copper bar, and aluminum bar, the supply chain is expected to be more stable in the coming year because those mills aren’t on allocation.
Labor Shortages in the Manufacturing Industry
The labor shortage that many industries are experiencing in 2021 isn’t likely to vanish in the new year — at least not right away.
Cox said the metals industry continues to have challenges with hiring and keeping labor, particularly for manufacturing positions. A combination of having many other job options, along with the perception of manufacturing jobs in the workforce, means the shortage may continue.
COVID continues to affect the workplace as well, with companies working to keep their employees safe. The rise of the new Omicron variant is also likely to play a role in the early days of 2022.
Metal End-Uses and Applications
Cox mentioned a few end-use applications that will likely see fluctuations in demand in 2022.
One area that’s anticipated to see less demand early in 2022 is the automotive industry. Semiconductor shortages have led to fewer cars being made and less need for steel, a trend that will likely continue for at least the first quarter of the year.
Conversely, the data processing and power industries will likely see growth.
“We are continuing to see large products for data centers, which is going to be good for both the aluminum coil and copper coil, as well as the aluminum and copper bar industries,” said Cox.
These industries would include materials for end-uses such as transformers and switch-gears. Cox said he expects the power generation and power distribution markets to continue to be important as well.
Cox had one piece of advice for those preparing for 2022: “Just hold on.”
He added, “We really have to see how the first quarter goes. Once we get through that first quarter, we’ll see how the second quarter develops. And I think we might see some shake-out in certain industries.”
Whatever happens in 2022, be assured that one thing won’t change: Three D Metals’ commitment to putting our customers first, every time.