Navigating PCB Material Shortages: Impact and Strategies by Millennium Circuits Limited

As a trusted partner in the PCB industry, we’ve been closely monitoring material shortages and pricing that impacts our customers. The trends in the market indicate a need for a proactive approach to managing material shortages.  Millennium Circuits Limited (MCL) is acting early to make navigating this challenging landscape easier and to ensure the best opportunity for our customers to receive their PCBs when needed. Below, we’ll dive into the details of the situation, its impact on availability and lead times, pricing implications, and the proactive measures MCL is taking to mitigate these effects.

Impact on Availability and Lead Times

The PCB industry is facing prolonged lead times due to material shortages, especially for non-standard copper weights and special dielectric thicknesses.  This delay is a direct result of raw material manufacturers cutting production to address certain raw material shortages. In many cases, we could see up to 4x increase in lead time.

Effects on Pricing

Raw material shortages on materials such as copper and resin, are leading to an overall increase in the total cost of PCBs. The price hikes do not appear to be uniform; higher loss materials are experiencing more significant increases compared to exotic materials. According to industry reports, the cost implications are severe, with manufacturers experiencing up to 20% cost increases in some cases​.

Millennium Circuits Limited’s Proactive Approach to Staying Ahead of the Curve

With a focus on vendor partner management, MCL is in a unique position to navigate the current supply challenges. While we cannot eliminate the material shortages from affecting lead times or pricing, our on-site presence at our main factories can reduce these impacts. Our Partner Management Process ensures that MCL orders receive priority on available materials, and we have increased our production allocations to better serve our customers. One way we do this is by having visibility on our customer’s ordering forecast to ensure we’re reserving materials before they are out of stock. If your PCB design is affected by a material shortage, the technical experts at MCL are skilled in PCB design and value engineering to identify cost-effective, alternative materials to ensure continued production.

A Proactive Approach

Here are key measures MCL’s Partner Management Team is taking to monitor material shortages:

  • On-Site Material Prioritization: Our partner management team on-site ensures material allocations are prioritized for MCL orders.
  • Daily Order Follow-Up: We conduct daily follow-ups on open orders and work in progress (WIP) to ensure timely completion.
  • Material Stock Monitoring: We monitor material stock levels weekly, comparing them against MCL order loading to manage supply efficiently. We monitor global material shortages and proactively purchase inventory to bridge gaps and lock in prices — preventing shortages and pricing spikes for our customers.
  • Capacity Management: We track factory capacity loading rates against the capacity reserved for MCL orders, ensuring optimal production flow.
  • Market and Material Tracking: We continuously track market conditions and material availability to anticipate and mitigate potential disruptions.

By maintaining a strong on-site presence and close communication with our suppliers, MCL provides timely updates and the best possible outcomes for our customers. This proactive approach ensures that we can navigate the challenging landscape of PCB material shortages effectively.

Steps to Minimize Delivery Disruption: A Collaborative Approach

To effectively secure materials for all orders and minimize delivery disruptions, proactive measures and close collaboration are essential. Here are some compelling steps your team can take:

  • Forecast Sharing: Provide visibility into your future orders by sharing your ordering forecast for PCBs. This foresight allows us to predict long-term needs and work earlier to obtain the necessary materials and lock in pricing on potential orders in the next 12 months.
  • Plan Ahead: For orders anticipated in the next 12 months, place a blanket PO with scheduled dates with our SteadyStock This ensures that you’ll have PCBs when needed, at a consistent price throughout the year.
  • Consistent Communication: By working together and sharing critical information, we can navigate the supply chain challenges more effectively and ensure your orders are fulfilled on time.

If you have any specific concerns or need personalized support regarding your projects, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Looking Ahead

The industry does not anticipate an immediate resolution to these shortages. At MCL, we are committed to navigating these turbulent times with resilience and dedication, ensuring that our customers receive the best possible service despite the challenges.

By staying informed and proactive, we aim to continue delivering quality and reliability in our PCB solutions, even in the face of industry-wide challenges.