June 2021 Market Update

With the volatility and uncertainty in supply chains getting worse, we at Uneeda have been compiling news from trusted sources and industry experts to help you understand the trends affecting your business.

Since our last update in May, prices have increased, and lead times have lengthened further due to material shortages and lack of container availability. From what we are seeing, we are not yet experiencing the worst of the effects. The trends we follow point to a further slide towards volatility and a sustained cycle of challenges until at least Q2 2022.

See a deeper dive below, including supporting stories from trustworthy news sources hyperlinked in blue.

New Trends

COVID is not gone…. While cases are down dramatically in the United States, current spikes in Taiwan, India and China have impacted supply chains over the past few weeks and will continue for the foreseeable future. Taiwan had almost zero cases throughout the pandemic, implementing a robust testing and quarantine policy and shutting the borders to foreign visitors. In just the last two weeks case levels have spiked and the country has been one step away from a nationwide lockdown. Vaccines are being rushed in from the US and cases have been falling since the peak on May 17. We are monitoring the situation constantly and a nationwide lockdown appears unlikely.

China and India are dealing with their own regional spikes which have so far impacted raw material availability and freight. One of the world’s busiest ports in Yantian China shut down to less than 30% capacity last week after multiple dockworkers tested positive. Further COVID variants such as the emergent variant in Vietnam could cause serious disruptions in countries that have managed the pandemic successfully so far, and could continue well into 2022.

The global freight market has continued to worsen, with Year over Year price increases of 400% and lack of availability impacting lead times. Demand is essentially 50% higher now than the same period in 2019, and the tight freight situation is expected to continue through 2021. There is a lack of containers as well as ships which as caused delays in shipping of over 4 additional weeks – Spot rates, which are normally how most importers move freight, are irrelevant as there are no available containers to be loaded at standard prices. To get a container shipped now, importers are relying on the premium market where there is some availability.  We have seen rates this week over $15,000 without a guarantee of booking. Many carriers are also limiting weight per container to 7,500kgs which is less than half of the typical container weight. Air freight rates are between $10-14/KG, much higher than the cost of most hardware of the same weight.

Demand for physical goods is much higher than predicted, causing a wave of orders for factories and overloading freight lines. As the US began to re-open and roll out vaccines in early 2021, the consensus by industry analysts was that people shift from buying physical goods and begin spending more on entertainment, travel, and restaurants. While venues have largely re-opened over the past few months, demand for durable goods remains stubbornly high. This signals a longer-lasting trend in consumer purchasing, highlighted by Walmart`s recent rise in earnings projections after higher-than-expected revenue growth. This trend in consumer preference toward e-commerce and high demand for durable goods is stressing every aspect of global supply chains at the moment. Federal Reserve Economic Data shows that Personal expenditure on Durable goods is almost 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Continuing Issues

Raw material shortages are at critical levels. With high demand for durable goods in the US and increased manufacturing and construction globally, raw materials have been increasing in price almost across the board. Recently European manufacturing has picked up and with it there is even more demand in Asia for hardware. Our factories have rejected quotes simply because they cannot acquire material. Just to acquire raw steel wire factories have reported lead times of 120+ days, up from 60 days just 2 months ago. China Steel Corporation, who has a near-monopoly on steel wire used in fasteners, has limited factories with quarterly quotas to preserve stock levels. Some signs point to a plateau in steel prices with slight decreases toward the end of the year, but this scenario is far from certain. Further US Government spending could increase demand for raw materials, further straining the already short supply.

Domestic stock-outs are here… Many of our top domestic suppliers are completely out of stock on common items until October and November. Others that have material have implemented quotas to protect material as large national fastener chains have sought to purchase all available material in expectation of the chaos to come. This means any of our customers that normally purchase material with a 1-2 Week lead time may find it extremely difficult to get material. Domestic factories are offering lead times of 10-22 weeks depending on the item, and some have started canceling existing open orders as they cannot keep up with demand. This fact does not seem to be understood by most manufacturers or consumers yet, so it will undoubtedly be harder to find items locally in the coming weeks.

Global Demand for goods and material from Asia is increasing as vaccine rollouts improve. Over the past month European countries have begun easing their Spring lockdowns, and our factories are telling us that they are seeing increased orders from European customers to replenish stock, much as the US did in Fall 2020.The worst bottlenecks are at secondary processors such as platers and painters. Our factories have been listing these as significant components of increased costs and many processors are fully booked until May 2022. Looking further out, the recently proposed infrastructure plan coupled with ambitious pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions will further stress the availability of metals like steel, copper, zinc and cobalt if followed through on.

The Solution

With the extremely long lead times overseas and shortage of common items domestically, we strongly advise all customers to plan far ahead as possible based on their hardware usage. Even in the absolute best-case scenario, overseas lead times are already pushing past the 12-month mark.

Companies that plan farther ahead over the last few months have seen almost no disruption to their fastener supply and have not needed to spend on costly airfreight or rush orders. Almost daily we see companies that have not planned for the environment take drastic measures such as airfreight, UPS next day air, and stopped production lines to account for the lack of fasteners which usually cost less than $0.01 each.

The trends we are following point to an extended period of volatility and long lead times. The companies that chose to wait until the last moment to replenish will be victim to the reality of the current market, where domestic factories are unable to process rush orders and even common items are stocked out in the US. The core tenants of supply chain management such as Just In Time inventory and Lean Manufacturing principles will not suit companies well in the current environment of such sustained and dramatic instability.

If you have any questions on how to mitigate these risks or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-800-535-2800 or email sales@uneedabolt.com

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments

May 2021 Market Update

The situation in global supply chains and manufacturing has gone from bad to worse in the past few weeks. The spike in Indian COVID cases has further stressed supply chains already dealing with high demand, lack of raw materials, and an explosive freight market. The domestic hardware market has started to react over the last 2 weeks, with some national chains stockpiling any material they can find, stocking out factories until October and November on common items. The trends we have been following since 2020 are now impacting every level of the global supply chain, and we are urging all customers to review inventory now and cover themselves for the next 8-12 months to avoid stock outs.

New Trends

Raw material shortages are at critical levels. With the sharp rebound in demand over the past few months, raw materials have been increasing in price across the board. Recently European manufacturing has picked up and factories need to replenish stocks (much as the US did in the Fall 2020) and with it there is even more demand in Asia for hardware. Our factories have rejected quotes simply because they cannot acquire material. Much of the raw wire that is used for hardware comes from smelters in India, and with the recent COVID spike factories have been ordered to divert oxygen to medical use. With the diversion of oxygen and workers returning home for safety, raw material supply is expected to become even tighter. Just to acquire raw steel wire factories must wait 60-90 days right now. The impact for 410 and 18/8SS will be even harder than the impact on steel availability.

Domestic stock-outs are here! Many of our top domestic suppliers are completely out of common items until October and November. Others that have material have implemented quotas to protect material as large national fastener chains have sought to purchase all available material in expectation of the chaos to come. This means any of our customers that normally purchase material with a 1-2 Week lead time may find it extremely difficult to get material at all, unless it is in our stock or on order from overseas. Domestic factories are offering lead times of 10-22 weeks depending on the item, and some have started canceling existing open orders as they cannot keep up with demand. This fact does not seem to be understood by most manufacturers or consumers yet, so it will undoubtedly be harder to find items locally in the coming weeks.

Global Demand for goods and material from Asia is increasing as vaccine rollouts improve. Over the past few weeks European countries have begun easing their spring lockdowns, and our factories are telling us that they are seeing increased orders from European customers to replenish stocks, much as the US did in Fall 2020.The worst bottlenecks are at secondary processors such as platers and painters. Our factories have been listing these as significant components of increased costs and many processors are fully booked until January 2022. Looking further out, the recently proposed infrastructure plan coupled with ambitions pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions will further stress the availability of metals like steel, copper, zinc and cobalt if followed through on.

While the global freight market appeared to show signs of easing last month, the high demand and Suez Canal blockage has caused a “tsunami” of freight to back up. Demand is essentially 50% higher now than the same period in 2019, and the freight situation is expected to continue through 2021. The blockage at the Suez canal affected millions of TEU and those containers will be late returning to Asia for the next trip. We are seeing rates of over $10,500 per container to lock down available space 4 weeks in advance, up from the standard $2,000-$2,500 we were seeing pre-pandemic. The only winners here are the shipping lines, which are reporting record profits this year.

Worse than incredibly high pricing is the lack of available space. Even paying huge premiums freight is backed up 4 weeks or more now. Speaking with our larger multinational customers who bring in thousands of containers per year, many have told us they can only book 1/3 of the containers they have ready to ship. The backlog is so large that the lack of availability likely will not subside until 2022.

The Solution

Just as the world is beginning to turn the corner regarding COVID, the effects of re-opening economies and complex global supply chains means the challenges we face will likely be with us into 2022. With these numerous risks in a global supply chain due to COVID and its associated effects and the solution is still to plan much further in advance than you have historically to account for unpredictable events. It is also crucial to have transparent communication from all members of your supply chain. We will successfully navigate 2021 together with foresight and planning.

If you have any questions on how to mitigate these risks or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-800-535-2800 or email sales@uneedabolt.com

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments

April 2021 Market Update

2021 is shaping up to be a volatile year in manufacturing – as one challenge subsides, another intensifies. Ocean freight has been an ongoing concern since the pandemic started last March, and there are now faint signs of a more stable freight market. Ocean freight rates have stabilized from the record highs last month, and the backlog at the busiest ports is beginning to let up despite a 47% increase year over year in imports.

Raw material shortages are the new focus with scarcities and price increases on plastics, steel, cardboard, and wood. The freak freeze in Texas has some of the largest petrochemical manufacturers shut down. The ongoing issues are starting to trickle down to consumers, with many retailers (Nike, GAP and Best Buy to name a few) listing supply chain delays as causes for reduced sales. Many estimates suggest that material shortages will remain until at least early summer when opening entertainment, retail and travel sectors relieve some demand-pressure from manufacturers.

The US economy is looking brighter if we can live with a little inflation. The Federal Reserve suggested last week that they would not be raising interest rates through 2023 and would accept some inflation to help recover lost jobs from the pandemic. Manufacturing output increased in March, although many companies list labor shortages as the cause for production delays as they struggle to hire workers. Vaccinations are rolling out quicker than planned and many states are allowing access to all adults within the next few weeks.  

New Trends

Raw materials markets have been volatile due to high demand and in some cases, weather. The freezing conditions in Texas could cause months of plastics shortages, with PVC, HDPE and other plastic costs rising sharply. Steel mills domestically and in Asia are still struggling to meet demand as the global economy rebounds sharply. Our factories have told us of rationing and monthly quotas from steel mills, especially on specialty steels such as 316 Stainless. Even domestic mills are increasing lead times by 50-100%. Looking at Federal Reserve Economic Data, other metals such as Copper, Aluminum, Brass and Zinc have all been rising since late 2020.

There are some signs of easing at key US Ports – Last month more than 50 container ships were at anchor outside of Long Beach and now there are about 20 (the lowest since December 2020). Carriers have been adding any capacity they can and scheduling blank sailings to ease the congestion on the west coast. About 1/3 of the total freight volume in NY/NJ is empty containers moving back to Asia. Domestic trucking and inland freight from ports has become expensive as weather conditions earlier in March and increased demand has driven pallet rates higher. Spot rates have come stabilized from the highs of last month, and there are signs that the freight market may be less volatile going forward as dockworkers are vaccinated and demand for goods alleviates with the re-opening of restaurants and travel this summer.

Ongoing Concerns

The USD has weakened relative to most other currencies since the pandemic began, although recent signs show a strengthening. Most of the decline in value has been since October 2020. Wall street analysts are suggesting that a weak USD will continue for some time, with US interest rates expected to stay at or near 0%. The USD did gain on some other major currencies in the past month, which analysts say is due to vaccine rollouts domestically and 3rd waves of the virus hitting Europe and parts of Asia. The wall street “Fear Gauge” VIX Index, which measures volatility in markets, hit the lowest point since the Coronavirus started last year signaling stability in markets.

Adding to lead times, secondary processors like painters and platers are backed up with work. On large quantity items, lead times have been significantly extended as there is simply not enough capacity to meet the current demand. We are still seeing some RFQs rejected outright due to lack of capacity at painters. Unfortunately, most factory capacity is fully booked through the 3rd quarter of 2021. Owners are reluctant to add much capacity to their lines, as they have told us they do not believe the strong demand will continue beyond 2021 as manufacturers replenish inventory that ran low during the pandemic.

The Solution

Ocean freight is starting to stabilize, and vaccine rollouts are going well in the US. Material shortages will be a threat for the next few months, and the possibility of 3rd waves of Coronavirus variants still pose a risk to stable manufacturing markets beyond the summer. With these numerous risks in a global supply chain due to COVID and its associated effects and the solution is still to plan much further in advance than you have historically to account for unpredictable events. It is also crucial to have transparent communication from all members of your supply chain. We will successfully navigate 2021 together with foresight and planning.

If you have any questions on how to mitigate these risks or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-800-535-2800 or email sales@uneedabolt.com

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments
Risk Management Through Uneeda

Risk Management Through Uneeda

With all the recent turmoil in global markets, many risks in your supply chain have likely become apparent. There are risks associated with any supply chain, but a solid partner should work with you to help you understand and mitigate these risks before they become an issue. We at Uneeda understand that the hardware we provide is likely not your most expensive or time-consuming component of your product, but if there is an issue It can shut down your entire operation. For this reason, we make painstaking efforts to reduce risk at all levels of our (and by extension, your) supply chain.

Starting at the source, we multi-source every item to ensure we have options if in the rare event there is an issue with a particular factory. Uneeda has multiple sources so that you do not have to. Uneeda has been importing since the 1970s and has thoroughly vetted all of our factories. We only purchase from ISO:9001 certified sources that produce high quality parts. Furthermore, we demand clarity and complete communication throughout the order process to best manage every order.  Not just any factory can supply Uneeda.  It is an exclusive club.

On this note, we switched the bulk of our overseas production to Taiwan decades ago to ensure consistent quality parts and open and clear communication.  We instill in our Factories the notion of partnership and our partners know they are expected to pass along market updates as to what they are seeing so we can help you best prepare for future conditions. We are constantly looking to qualify new sources, across various countries to lessen any possible political risk as well.

Once an order is placed, we expedite individual parts monthly with our factories and require reporting of all items; where they are in production, and when they are expected to ship out. This level of granularity gives us the ability to forecast arrival dates accurately and stay on top of potential issues before they arise.  This proactive behavior allows us to handle potential issues in production with little to no impact on our customers.  

We have three NVOCCs (Non-Vessel Owning Common Carriers) that we shop rates on every 15 days to ensure we are getting the best possible ocean freight rates, allowing us to ensure we are not overspending on ocean freight, and keep your prices as low as possible. We buy in large quantities and we always import material in full containers, further improving the efficacy of ocean freight and keeping costs at bay. When a single order does not fill a container, we consolidate with other orders to save as much as possible on freight costs. We are in daily communication with our carriers and require market updates as soon as they are available, which we pass along to our customers when applicable.

When your items are supplied by Uneeda you can be sure that your supply chain is protected. Our responsibility as your hardware supplier is to keep you in the loop on what we are seeing at every level. We have numerous safeguards working cohesively at every stage of production to be sure you get the right parts, on time and without surprises.

If you would like to discuss what Uneeda can do for you or have any questions please reach out to us at Sales@uneedabolt.com or call 1-800-535-2800.

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments

Which Drill Bit Should I Use?

One of the most common questions we are asked by our customers is which drill bit is the right for their projects. With so many designs and materials it can be confusing to know which is best for your project, so we break down key characteristics below.  

Jobber Bits

Among the most common drill bits, Jobbers are a good all-round drill bit for most projects. They come in a variety of materials and points. “Jobber” refers to the length of the bit.

Tip Style

Split Tip – A split in the tip of the drill bit that allows it to self-center. The split begins to cut before the sharp edges of the drill meet the material. Commonly used along with 135°

Standard Tip – Most common in 118°, a standard tip is perfect for drilling soft materials.

Tip Angle

90 Degree Tip – Relatively uncommon, used on very soft materials like plastic or vinyl.

118 Degree Tip – The most common tip for drill bits, it works well in softer materials like wood, aluminum, thin steel or plastic. They may start to walk when drilling harder steel, and therefore a center-punch should be used to keep the bit on target. Smaller diameter bits under 1/16” are almost always 118°.

135 Degree Tip – Mostly used on hard materials like 410SS or Steel, these bits have a less aggressive tip and center themselves well on harder surfaces. The angle of the tip allows the bit to cut into the material relatively quickly without dulling the tip as on a 118° bit.

Bit Material

In addition to the tip, you should consider the material that the bit is made from.

High-Speed Steel – Most common material great for general purpose use. It is surface treated to ensure a harder material than low-carbon steel. Surface treatment also reduces abrasion and friction between the bit and the material being drilled.

Cobalt – Harder than HSS, these bits are used for drilling steel and stainless-steel and typically are used in conjunction with a 135 Degree Split Point. Cobalt bits are more heat-resistant than steel bits and do not dull as quickly when operated at high temperatures. Keep in mind that any high-temperature usage of a drill bit will eliminate the benefits of heat treating and cause the bit to dull. Lubricating the bit will extend the useful life.

Carbide and Carbide Tipped – Harder material on key points on the bit, good for non-ferrous materials. Carbide in these applications is a combination of either Titanium or Tungsten with Carbon to create an extremely hard, heat resistant material. Tungsten Carbide, for instance, has a hardness on the Mohs Scale of about 9.5 (10 being natural Diamond).

Concrete/Masonry Bits

Masonry drill bits are shaped differently from Jobber bits, and typically have a softer steel body for debris removal with a Tungsten Carbide cutting tip. Masonry bits have larger flutes to allow debris to exit the hole and reduce friction on the bit.

Some masonry bits called SDS Bits are designed to be used in a hammer-drill. These Slotted Drive Shaft bits lock into hammer-drills and are perfect for drilling concrete or brick and are often made entirely from Tungsten Carbide. It is important not to exert too much pressure on an SDS bit as it will reduce the effectiveness of the hammer-drill as the bit both spins and reciprocates in and out of the hammer-drill.

Uneeda Bolt stocks multiple lines of drill bits, both USA Made and imported. If you have any questions on which bit is right for your job give us a call!

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments

Manufacturing Market Updates

On Saturday the US House of Representatives passed President Biden`s $1.9T Stimulus package. Should the package pass the Senate, most Americans will receive an additional $1,400.00 check. The $15/hr minimum wage hike was removed before the bill went to the Senate, a benefit for US Manufacturing. For manufacturers both domestically and overseas, the prospect of additional stimulus is likely to cause increased demand for products in the near term. Supply chains could be stretched even tighter, and inflation could become a concern as too many dollars chase too few goods.

On another note, vaccine rollouts have been ramping up and with the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting distribution, plans to bring COVID under control are on the horizon. Crucially, dock workers across the country have been prioritized as essential and many have already been vaccinated. Hopefully, this will help ease record congestion that has built up at West Coast ports and start returning empty containers back overseas.

New Trends

Metals markets have been volatile as mills have trouble meeting demand, and prices on steel are expected to continue rising in the short term. Steel mills domestically and in Asia are struggling to meet demand as the global economy rebounds sharply. Factories have told us of rationing and monthly quotas from steel mills, especially on specialty steels such as 316 Stainless. Even domestic mills are raising lead times by 50-100%. A recent report by the Shanghai Metals Market details the skyrocketing price of copper in February, and the increases in Nickel, Aluminum and Zinc. Copper and Aluminum prices could come down in the short term, as a decrease in new orders due to the recent spikes is expected.

The continuing demand for imports has caused congestion at ports to increase. Currently more than 50 container ships are at anchor outside of Long Beach – In February there were about 30. Gene Seroka, the Executive Director of the largest US port in Long Beach stated recently, “These are levels of shipments we have never seen in our 113 year history.” The vaccination of dock workers should help, but the backlog of finished goods waiting to ship from Asia and strong demand suggest that the stretched freight market is now expected to continue through 2021. Consumers are still spending more on durable goods (retailers have record-low inventory levels) and less on entertainment and dining.

Ongoing Concerns

The USD has continued weakening relative to most other currencies in the past year. Most of the decline in value has been since October 2020. Relative to the Taiwan Dollar, the USD is at the lowest point since 1997. Relative to the Chinese Yuan, the USD is 8.3% weaker than this time last year. Wall street analysts are suggesting that a weak USD will continue for some time, with US interest rates expected to stay at or near 0% and further economic stimulus increasing the supply of US Dollars. With a weak USD, imports become more expensive and costs for material purchased in USD increases.

Adding to lead times, secondary processors like painters and platers are backed up with work. On large quantity items, lead times have been significantly extended as there is simply not enough capacity to meet the current demand. We are still seeing some RFQs rejected outright due to lack of capacity at painters. Owners are reluctant to add much capacity to their lines, as they have told us they do not believe the strong demand will continue beyond 2021 as manufacturers replenish inventory that ran low during the pandemic.

The Solution

The vaccine rollouts have consumers and markets feeling positive about the future. Manufacturers and distributors have a less rosy outlook for the coming months as high demand and uncertainty make forecasting more of a crap-shoot than a science. There are still numerous risks in a global supply chain due to COVID and its associated effects and the solution is still to plan further in advance to account for unpredictable events and demand transparent communication from all members of your supply chain. We will successfully navigate 2021 together with foresight and planning.

If you have any questions on how to mitigate these risks or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-800-535-2800 or email sales@uneedabolt.com

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments

Corrosion Resistance

Almost every steel fastener produced is either plated or coated with a layer to reduce corrosion. Un-plated steel will rust, even indoors, due to moisture in the air and eventually lose its structural integrity. To combat this, manufacturers coat steel fasteners in a variety of coatings and other metals through processes like Electroplating and Chemical Vapor Deposition.

Corrosion resistance in fasteners is measured using a Salt Spray Test. This method tests the material using a 5% Na saltwater sprayed onto the product in a closed environment. By measuring the time it takes for oxides (rust) to form on the product, corrosion resistance can be determined.

There are many variables that affect rusting on a steel part, so this test is not exact. It is the convention in the fastener industry and therefore the metals and coatings below will be described by their hours of corrosion resistance in a Salt Spray Test. The following information is based on our 65+ years of experience in the fastener industry, always refer to your engineering team before implementing product changes.

Plating

The most common plating by far is Zinc Electroplating. This coating is a thin layer of zinc over the steel part, about .0002” thick. This provides a shiny-metallic finish and about 30 hours of corrosion resistance using the Salt Spray Test. .00015” thick Yellow Zinc (Zinc with Yellow Chromate) has about 72 hours of corrosion resistance.

Thicker layers of Zinc provide more protection. .0005” thick zinc electroplating provides about 96 hours of corrosion resistance.

Hot Dipped Galvanizing, where the parts are physically dipped into liquid zinc, has a thickness of about .01” and can provide corrosion resistance up to 1000 hours.

Steel parts can be plated with other metals, such as Nickel, Brass, Copper, and Tin. Each of these will provide some protection of the underlying steel, but eventually, all will rust.

Coatings

Synthetic coatings have been created to improve corrosion resistance over electroplating. There are many brand names for these coatings, and in general they provide 1000 hours or more of corrosion resistance. These coatings also come in various colors to match customer products.

At Uneeda, we often use Ruspert Coatings, which consists of a 3-layer coating.

  • Layer 1: Metallic Zinc
  • Layer 2: Anti-Corosion chemical film
  • Layer 3: Baked Ceramic surface

Another coating method that has become popular is Dacrotization. This method was developed by Diamond Shamrock Co., Ltd and is especially popular in deck screws that can resist corrosion in treated lumber for outdoor use. Dacrotized treatment is applied by dipping parts into a liquid bath and then spinning to remove any excess. The parts are then baked at high temperatures to give an extremely corrosion-resistant coating. See the image below for results after 2,000 hours of the Salt Spray Test.


*NOF METAL COATINGS ASIA PACIFIC CO., LTD.

Material

The most important component of corrosion resistance is the base material that a part is made from.

Low-Carbon steel is one of the most common material types as it is inexpensive and strong. Its tendency to rust requires some sort of plating or coating in most cases to protect from corrosion.

410 Stainless Steel is similar to low-carbon steel in its strength, and it provides a moderate amount of corrosion resistance. Passivation is often performed on 410SS which dips the material into an acid bath to remove any iron particles or other contaminants from the surface. Passivated 410SS parts will typically pass a 48 hours salt spray test. Some customers plate the 410SS Zinc to add corrosion resistance and improve drivability (Zinc acts as a lubricant). 400 series stainless steel is hardened through heat treatment.

18/8SS is a term for all 300-Series Stainless Steels, typically 302HQ or 304. 300 Series Stainless is much more corrosion resistant than Steel or 410, but is a weaker material for fasteners. 18/8 Stainless has higher levels of Chromium (~18%) and Nickel (~8%) and can pass 1000 hours of the salt spray test. 18/8 Stainless can be used in ACQ treated lumber without any additional plating or coating. These types of fasteners are hardened through cold working, where the fastener is formed from the wire without heating.

316 Stainless, which is often used in commercial kitchens and other high-touch environments, includes 2-3% Molybdenum which increases corrosion resistance. 316 Stainless is less prone to pitting and bleeding than either 410 or 18/8.

With all types of stainless steel, there may be some surface rust as Iron particles exposed to the elements begin to oxidize.  This surface rust will not penetrate as quickly through the part as it would in a steel part.

If you have any questions about what type of material, plating, or coating is right for your application, call us or email sales@uneedabolt.com!

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments
Ocean Freight VS. COVID-19: Update

Ocean Freight VS. COVID-19: Update

Covid 19 has greatly affected freight, from air-freight prices skyrocketing to reduced ocean freight capacity.

 Uneeda brings in hundreds of containers from overseas annually, and we continuously stay on top of the Transpacific cargo market.

So what is happening?

With the initial hit of COVID, air-freight capacity was reduced as about 40% of air freight is moved via commercial airliners.

 As airlines canceled flights, they removed air-cargo capacity. This has since recovered a bit, but we are still seeing elevated air-freight rates.

The vast majority of material is transported by ocean freight, which has been affected by COVID-related issues as well.

When demand for ocean freight decreases, the carriers remove some ships from service and cancel the sailings. This is called a “Blank Sailing.” This reduces the capacity, which keeps rates high as supply lowers to meet the lower demand. It also means fewer ships on certain routes, so cost and lead times increase.

 There were a significant number of blank sailings in March, April and May which reduced the capacity coming eastbound into the US. This is expected to continue through July.

There was also a large push to prioritize PPE which took up additional space. This ultimately lead to a backlog of containers in Asia, extending shipping times.

Now, we are seeing carriers push for General Rate Increases to re-coup profits from canceled sailings. There is also a push to implement Peak-Season Surcharges as early as June 15. Combined, this could cause increases of over $1,000 per container in June alone.

In the short term, we expect to see reduced capacity and increased cost related to ocean-freight for at least June and July. Carriers are continuing to keep the ocean-freight capacity low to keep profits higher and combat the slowdown in global shipping.

What does this mean for our customers?

You should continue to plan far in advance on orders coming from overseas. As we always advise, it is better to have your material waiting at Uneeda for you ahead of time than for you to run out.

No matter what happens with ocean freight, we stand by the prices we quote and you will not need to worry about fluctuations in the market.

Once you submit a PO to Uneeda you are locked in on price. We urge customers to monitor their inventory and plan well in advance so that we can make sure material is here before it is needed. We make sure anything in our pipeline is scheduled properly;  mitigating any chance of cost increase or delays.  

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The Scoop On Stainless.

The Scoop On Stainless.

A question we are often asked at Uneeda Bolt is: “What are the differences between the types of stainless steel?” or “Why would someone use stainless steel over steel parts, and what kind should I use?”

Let’s start with steel. There are multiple classes of steel: from Carbon Steel and Alloy Steel, to Tool Steel.

These steels have very low resistance to corrosion in most instances. Some coatings that are applied over the raw material can aid the fastener in surviving harsh conditions for a little while, but ultimately, they are rated for a limited number of hours in a salt spray lab.

When customers ask for corrosive resistance properties beyond what steel can provide, we often inform them about stainless steel. Like steel, there are many different alloys/grades of stainless steel. Each one varies by hardness and corrosive resistance properties.

400 Series S/S – 400 series can be heat treated. Heat-treated 400 series has great hardness properties, but much less corrosion resistance than other types of stainless steel listed below.

Self-tapping, self-drilling, and other fasteners that require hardness are often made from this grade of stainless steel because it provides the strength required in most applications, while still providing better anti-corrosion properties than steel. Many people choose to zinc plate their 410 stainless as well: zinc plating acts as a lubricant when installing, creates a barrier between the raw material and the application material, as well as being sacrificial in order to improve weathering properties. 400 series is magnetic; this is important because many original equipment manufacturers rely on magnetic bit holders in assembly.

302-304 S/S (18/8) – Often referred to as 18/8 stainless, this material is a general term for any grade stainless between 302 and 304. It gets its name for being an alloy containing 18% chromium and 8% nickel. This stainless steel is much more corrosion resistant than the 400 series previously mentioned. While this grade of stainless steel will not “rot,” it can bleed rusty color due to impurities being brought to the surface during the manufacturing process. This why 18/8 stainless should always be passivated.

Passivating removes the impurities and reduces the chance that color will bleed from the hardware (every 18/8 screw that Uneeda provides has been passivated). This type of hardware is often used in wet, outdoor environments. Because it is softer than 400 series stainless, it can only be used in certain applications where shear, tensile, drill, and cut strength of the fastener is a non-issue.

302 HQ (XM7) – Similar to 18/8 in corrosion resistance, this stainless steel is 300 series with 3% copper added in order to improve the material’s cold-working/forming ability. Because less work hardening occurs during the manufacturing process, these parts are softer because they are less subject to work hardening, yet tougher (even in insanely cold temperatures) than its 18/8 cousin. Deck screws are often made from 302HQ because it is less likely to snap during installation.

316 S/S – Also known as “surgical grade stainless steel,” this material is used often in environments next to bodies of saltwater, body jewelry, restaurant counters, and surgical tools. The reason this stainless steel is used in harsh environments where salt, chlorine, and other aggressive chemicals are used is that 316 stainless steel does not bleed its color and will never show any signs of rust under any circumstances. Can you imagine if a surgeon was operating with rusty scalpels and forceps? Like 18/8, this grade of stainless is extremely soft. This is the most expensive option when it comes to stainless steel fasteners.

If you have more questions pertaining to stainless steel, contact us! We will answer to the best of our ability.

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments
Pricing Factors: Exchange Rate

Pricing Factors: Exchange Rate

Relative to the US Dollar (USD), the Taiwanese Dollar (TWD) has strengthened in recent months.

The current exchange rate of around 30TWD per USD is the strongest the TWS has been since June of 2018.

In the past 6 months, we have seen the TWD increase in strength by about 4.1% from early August of 2019 to early February 2020.

Whereas material or labor costs only affect a portion of the cost of fasteners, the exchange rate affects the cost of fasteners with a 1:1 ratio.

Uneeda tracks exchange rates daily to mitigate risk and stabilize our pricing, as about 95% of all material is purchased through Taiwan.

Overseas material is paid for upfront at the time of order, so we look to optimize ordering when exchange rates are favorable to the USD.

Posted by Eric Brickman, 0 comments