TIMco speaks out on the coronavirus China factory shutdowns & knock-on effects

TIMco, the major UK and Ireland wholesale supplier of fixings, fasteners, screws and power tool accessories, has spoken out on the impact of the extended China factory shutdowns following the coronavirus outbreak.

As the global fastener industry continues to assess the impact of the coronavirus – on the supply chain and the international show calendar – TIMco has passed Torque Magazine a statement outlining its expert view on the developing situation.

Some China fastener factories have reopened after the prolonged shutdown, though many are still under capacity or outright shut.

TIMco said it was keeping in close contact with its key manufacturing locations – the majority of which are outside China – noting the potential impact on factories in other nations, as production in other countries picks up the production slack.

TIMco said: “The immediate availability of TIMco’s products remains unchanged as we continue to invest in, and maintain, high levels of stock. Due to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, the Chinese government has however taken the decision to extend the public holidays and block the movement of people between provinces which is resulting in some factory workers being unable to return to work following the Chinese New Year break.

"Some factories who support a more local workforce are able to operate but at lower output levels. Should conditions worsen and these closures continue, the UK among other importing countries may experience shortages in various products including construction materials in the coming months.

"The majority of TIMco products are manufactured in countries outside of China but naturally this occurrence is beginning to have a knock-on effect to other key manufacturing locations in the Far East. We are keeping in close contact with our suppliers and reviewing all options to minimise any potential disruption."

Other major UK fastener suppliers, including Hexstone, have also noted the potential challenges ahead if the shutdowns continue, including the return of workers after the extended break. Hexstone CEO Ian Doherty told Torque: “One of the concerns would be the return of workers. Historically this can be a challenge after the Chinese New Year, so that’s another potential for disruption... We have got alternative sources that will protect us, but ultimately we are protected with the depth of stock we carry anyway. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

Goebel fasteners: "It's an evolving situation"

The US branch of Goebel Fasteners has also now made a statement on the developing situation. The firm said that it has seen quarantine conditions in China extended for two weeks after the Chinese New Year. Goebel said that under a best case scenario, it expects factories to reopen week commencing 25 Feb, or worst case, a delay of a month (emphasising that this is a prediction based on an evolving situation).

An edited version of Goebel's comment reads: "The latest news is that the Chinese government has implemented an extended quarantine period of fourteen (14) days after the Chinese New Year holiday for all workers. Each year, typically 400 million people travel in China during the new-year holidays. Many factory workers travel from inner provinces and this is the only time the entire year they are able to see their families.

"The Chinese government has additionally stated that all factories will be inspected by officials to ensure they have enough face masks, sanitizing products and personal protection equipment to prevent any further spreading of the virus. Once inspected and approved the factories are allowed to reopen.

"The net effect of this is that under a best case scenario, we expect factories to be delayed by two (2) weeks, restarting February 25th. In the worst case scenario, we expect factories to be delayed by a month. Again, this is an evolving situation, so this is our best prediction at this time.

"Because of the delays and restrictions on air travel to/from China, we expect any expedites or access to urgent air shipments to be limited. For stock orders, Goebel Fasteners, Inc. has a large inventory held in Houston, TX with a variety of products brought in to keep our customer orders moving. Therefore, we do not expect a major impact to our inventory levels at this time. For indent orders, Chinese factories may be delayed in their ability to manufacturer and ship products during this time. Please work with your Goebel Fasteners, Inc. rep for any detailed inquiries."

Global trade fair impact

The broader impact of coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, on the show calendar is also being assessed. With several major shows for fasteners or fairs with significant fastener elements, like Cologne's International Hardware Fair, scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, the attendance of Chinese exhibitors and visitors is likely to be hugely impacted.

Torque has seen at least one exhibitor openly confirm it will be pulling its presence from the show and will not attend the Cologne International Hardware Fair due to fears of the coronavirus. Off the record, other firms have said they are likely to also pull their stands. Torque has asked the show organisers for comment.

Has coronavirus aka COVID-19 impacted on your supply chain? Let us know at info@torque-expo.com.

There's some expert opinion on the potential challenges ahead for the supply chain here.