Warning: electric immersion heater shortage

Creative solutions to sourcing electric immersion heaters

If you’re not prepared for supply chain challenges, they can shut down your industrial cleaning and coating processes. A case in point is electric immersion heaters, which are currently experiencing supply chain shortages.

“Any application where you’re cleaning metal by immersing it in a heated liquid cleaning solution is affected by the current shortage,” explains Mike Lindemann, JSA business development manager. That includes zinc, nickel, tin and gold plating processes, plus post-treatment chemicals that need to be heated.

Lindemann explains that these heaters periodically wear out. Moisture can cause a short circuit. The chemicals they’re immersed in can slowly attack them. Components in the heater or the controller can simply wear out. 

Under normal circumstances, if an electric immersion heater fails at a JSA customer location, we quickly ship a replacement to them. “Within a few days, they’d be back up and running. But that’s definitely not the case now. In some cases, we’re seeing lead times of 14 to 16 weeks for these products,” he warns.

Here are three scenarios you should consider in light of this critical supply chain issue:

1. You haven’t had a problem yet

Waiting until you have a problem with your electric immersion heater isn’t a viable approach, Lindemann warns, because this shortage may continue for a number of months. Because of this, he recommends that you take a critical look at the processes in your shop to identify any areas of weakness. 

“Play ‘What if?’ with your cleaning and coating processes. Ask yourself, ‘If this heater fails, what would we do?’ It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of shops that don’t think this way. They just take their chances – which is pretty risky,” he points out.

Lindemann recommends that you keep one or two replacement heaters on the shelf at all times, just in case one fails. “At the very least, if you do have a spare and your main heater fails, order another one immediately, so you always have one in reserve,” he adds.

2. Your heater just failed and you don’t have a spare

If an electric immersion heater in one of your tanks fails and you don’t have a spare, your best option is to contact JSA to discuss your application and your needs. We need to know the dimensions of the tank, your target temperature and the incoming voltage. 

“Each heater is designed specifically for the tank in which it’s being used,” Lindemann explains. “If we don’t have the size you need in stock, we may be able to recommend a different size that may work for now, until we can get the correct one. Sometimes, depending upon the application, a steam heater may be a potential solution. We’ll help you work through all the available options,” he adds.

3. You’re expanding your operations

If your metal cleaning and treatment operations are expanding, congratulations!

Please contact us to discuss your needs. If we’re able to fill them now, we will. But more than likely, you may need to extend your timetable for installing your new lines until the supply of electric immersion heaters improves.

The JSA solution

JSA has a long relationship with the primary supplier of electric immersion heaters in North America. “We’ve been distributing their line for over 25 years,” Lindemann emphasizes. “Hopefully, as their supply chain challenges subside, we’ll be able to get on allocation for electric immersion heaters sooner rather than later.”

Collectively, the technical sales team at JSA has over 100 years of experience in metal cleaning and finishing chemicals and equipment. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to creatively help our customers solve their metal cleaning and treatment challenges,” Lindemann concludes.