March 2022 / Vol. 27 No. 3
By Tim McClintock, Midwest Technical Field Representative, NEMA
Disruptions in 2020 and 2021 wreaked havoc on the electroindustry on an unprecedented scale. For the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to widespread shortages of supplies and materials for the electroindustry.
From a local installer, inspector, and consumer perspective, the supply chain disruptions have impacted the design and installation of products, whether due to lack of material supply or significant price increases. In some instances, installers have had to turn to non-conventional means to obtain supplies such as online vendors, resulting in the distribution of unlisted or counterfeit products. These disruptions have also created delays with inspections, up to and including final inspection. In some instances, a final Certificate of Occupancy has been issued without all the equipment being installed.
Disruptions have also impacted the adoption and implementation of Codes and Standards. In some states across the U.S., entire adoptions have been delayed. In other cases, adoptions have had to incorporate either temporary or permanent amendments due to the unavailability of specific products related to supply chain disruptions. For example, Minnesota adopted the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code® NEC with an effective date of November 17, 2020. Due to supply chain shortages, the state implemented a temporary amendment extending the effective date for an important life-safety technology – the GFCI, which was expanded to outdoor 250-volt outlets in the 2020 NEC.
With the winding down of the worst of the pandemic, the industry continues to devise and implement processes to overcome supply chain disruptions. In an effort to address these issues head on, NEMA recently formed a new Materials Management Council to address issues related to materials management and associated supply chain issues. The Council has been meeting regularly since June of 2021 and has set up a webpage and available resources than can be found by visiting Materials Management Council.
In effort to help mitigate against a future pandemic or other global supply disruptions, best practices in supply management need to be employed at all points on the supply chain to build resiliency. The Technical Field Representative Program stands ready and willing to assist electrical professionals continuing to be impacted by supply chain disruptions and will continue to monitor the issue to provide intelligence on supply needs at the state and local level. ei