Covid and Module Scarcity: What Are the Details?

Hi Intellijel,

I don’t intend this to be a “when is module x going to be back in stock” thread. Instead, I was wondering if you could possibly take a moment to explain the way Covid continues to affect the restocking of so many of your great modules. I got into Euro in late 2020 (like a lot of people), and others have explained to me that lack of module availability hasn’t always been like this. A few questions:

  1. I know that semiconductors are something where the supply is nowhere near meeting the demand globally. Is this the main obstacle to meeting demand for your modules or are there other parts in shortage?
  2. Are semiconductors solely used in microprocessors for digital modules or are they used in other electronics in the modules?
  3. Do you feel a slowdown in productivity related to illness and social distancing requirements has also contributed to the shortage?

I’m willing to be patient and wait for the modules on my wish list, so I think I’m just looking to have my curiosity satisfied. Thanks a bunch, you guys are truly the best doing it, and I hope you can find a way to meet demand sooner than later, if anything for your company’s own well-being.

Also, any links to good videos, good reads, good forum threads/posts on the topic are welcome. :blush:

3 Likes

We are well beyond just a semiconductor shortage but that was the first big wave of issues.

Specific capacitors, opamps, regulators, diodes/leds and so many more electronics components are all showing lead times of 50-80 weeks and zero stock globally in most cases. There are not many Eurorack products that aren’t impacted at this point.

Covid exacerbated a problem that was already brewing for many years. Basically, new component/semiconductor factories and expanded manufacturing capabilities should have been implemented far sooner. The industries did not accurately predict the rate of increased demand spurred by things like the rise of electric vehicles.

Next year, several new factories will be operational, most notably a giant new factory from Texas Instruments. TI have incidentally been accused as being one of the main causes for all these problems:

When the pandemic began, many industries were uncertain of what would happen to their market. As a result, many people held off on ordering parts as they expected a massive decline in sales. All the factories in turn had to adjust their production output. Then several months later, many industries like music technology and consumer electronics actually experience an uptick in sales and then tried to catch up on backorders. However, all the parts factories were not able to fill the sudden increased demand and then parts started to be out of stock with longer lead times. As a reaction to this, many parts purchasers started to buy more than they need and stockpile in case of shortages and this kind of set off a chain reaction.

Additionally, there have been Covid outbreaks at factories, shortages of shipping containers, massive increases in shipping costs and time, fires/explosions at key facilities like AKM (Supply Chain Disruption News: AKM Factory Fire - Converge) and I am sure many other events I have not really dug into yet.

Basically, it has been a perfect storm of issues. Intellijel will continue to do its best to navigate the situation and come up with solutions, but a lot of this is out of our hands.

Tons more info about this if you google:
global supply chain issues
semiconductor shortages
electronic component shortages

12 Likes

Absolutely, the Consumer Electronics giants such as Samsung and LG have suffered massive delays and stock shortages are rife in Australia on many key lines. Erica Systems had to delay the Perkons launch by almost a year. It’s tough and we’ll have to exercise patience. On the flip side, once those semi-conductors start flowing through, it’ll be boom time.

My understanding is this on multiple layers: some companies can’t get certain chips or have had to redesign around different controllers that are more readily available or don’t have insane pricing, which increases development time. If you can get something built then there’s trouble shipping. If you can ship stuff then there’s delays at the other end with distribution.

I also got into modular in 2020 and for most of the year the modules I wanted were simply not available anywhere. I have also noticed that US retailers seem to fairing slightly worse than Europe - modules that are unavailable from some of the largest US retailers are often available from retailers like Thomann (espec. Behringer modules ;-). Some modules and/or instruments take longer to get into US retail channels if they are made outside the US (which most are). In my case I will sign on to email lists to be notified when certain things become available so I can jump on any pre-orders as soon as they open up. I know it will be months before I get them but at least Im in line. In some cases I have signed up to be a patron on Patreon for a few things that were in development just to make sure that continues and also so I can be a buyer when the first batches are completed (eg. Dirtywave M8 tracker).

Still waiting for some Studiologic gear I ordered last October… :weary:

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Hey @Danjel: Maybe this is a ridiculous idea, but any chance Intellijel could give a heads up here on the forum when you’re shipping stuff that’s been out of stock for a while and let us faithfuls know where it’s going so we can be ready and perhaps make preorders?

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FWIW, just randomly did a little browsing on Patchwerks looking at wish list numbers for certain out-of-stock modules, this is what I found:

Scales - 21
Planar - 17
Quadrax - 15
Steppy 1U - 15
Rainmaker - 8
Atlantis - 5
Noise Tools - 4
Shifty - 4
Plonk - 3
Shapeshifter - 3
Dual ADSR - 2

Disclaimer: I’m aware that this in no way scientifically suggests the highest demand for out-of-stock modules. Coincidentally though, I have a preorder with PC and Sweetwater for Scales that I placed December 28th. :crossed_fingers: