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ATSSA releases Special Report on raw materials issue

ATSSA today released a Special Report on the raw materials shortage, which found that nearly 92% of members who responded to a recent survey were experiencing a shortage and 90% expect the situation to continue for at least six more months.

The report, “ATSSA Raw Materials Update,” is the result of three member surveys, the most recent of which was conducted in April. Each survey was sent to ATSSA members in the Manufacturing Division.

“Since the first quarter of 2021, the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) has monitored the availability of several key raw materials on behalf of the roadway safety infrastructure industry as it has impacted ATSSA’s primary focus to move Toward Zero Deaths on our nation’s roads,” the report states.

The percentage of members impacted by the raw materials shortage has increased with each survey, going from 75% in the first survey in March 2021 to 88% in June 2021 and now at 92%.

“Each of the ATSSA surveys showed that raw materials shortages were having a major impact on members who are directly engaged in providing roadway safety infrastructure, which poses a nationwide safety risk because their work is designed to save lives on streets and highways across the country,” the report states in its conclusions.

The three materials mentioned most often as being in short supply have been consistent throughout the surveys: metals (steel and aluminum), resins and electronic components. ATSSA also created an infographic summarizing key findings of the report.

Metals, which are used for a variety of purposes in the roadway safety infrastructure industry, were identified as an issue by five of the six ATSSA manufacturer types in the April survey: guardrail, pavement marking, temporary traffic control, traffic signal and sign manufacturers.

Resins are used in a variety of ways and utilized in many divisions within ATSSA including guardrail manufacturers, high friction surface treatment (HFST), pavement marking, sign and temporary traffic control, the survey notes. Thirty-two of the 95 survey respondents across multiple manufacturing divisions within ATSSA identified resin as a material in short supply.

Electronic components are applied broadly within the roadway safety infrastructure industry. Specifically, they affect temporary traffic control including intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and traffic signals divisions as well as divisions that use technology to assist with the application or removal of traffic control products, the report notes.

April survey respondents also indicated they were impacted by increases in freight costs and the cost of raw materials.

“Some of these costs are associated with the significant increases in diesel fuel costs, costs and delays from shipping overseas, and incentive payments for drivers due to labor shortages in this industry,” the report states.

The surveys were conducted by ATSSA’s Innovation & Technical Services Team, with its director, Eric Perry, compiling and analyzing the results.

In the wake of the report’s findings, ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner is sending a letter today to the leaders of each state’s department of transportation (DOT), providing them the updated situation and access to the Special Report.

This is the third letter since April 2021 from ATSSA to the DOTs regarding the raw materials issue.

“Once again, I strongly urge you to provide flexibility on liquidated damages provisions within your contracts for all roadway safety products due to the lack of availability and excessive delays due to shipping products resulting from the current unforeseeable, extreme circumstances,” Tetschner states in today’s letter.  “In addition to flexibility on contract time, we also ask you to consider price supports on selected projects that have been affected by dramatic volatility in raw materials pricing as well as increased freight costs. This short-term radical increase was unanticipated.”

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