SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Extended at 5-8 Weeks

Written by Tim Triplett

Based on the latest SMU Flat Rolled and Plate Steel Market Trends Survey, mill lead times on flat rolled steel remain highly extended, close to the levels measured by Steel Market Update in mid-2016, as mills scramble to fill orders on strong demand. Mill lead times, which are the amount of time it takes for the domestic mills to produce a new order taken this week, is one of the key proprietary indicators tracked by Steel Market Update. Lead times reflect the activity at the mills and the order levels they are seeing from their customers. SMU’s latest data indicates that the average lead time for hot rolled remains at between five and six weeks, while cold rolled, galvanized and Galvalume are at or near an average of eight weeks.

By product category, hot rolled lead times now average 5.73 weeks, up slightly from 5.65 weeks a month ago. Hot rolled lead times have stretched by more than two weeks since steel prices began rising in October.

Cold-rolled lead times now average 7.50 weeks, down slightly from 7.79 weeks a month ago.

Galvanized lead times topped eight weeks in mid-March and registered 8.10 weeks in the latest data. The lead time for Galvalume moved up to 8.33 weeks from 7.00 weeks one month ago.

“Lead times are extended, but deliveries have been faster,” said one executive. “A couple of mills are quoting July lead times,” said another.

Note: These lead times are based on the average from manufacturers and steel service centers who participated in this week’s SMU market trends analysis. Our lead times do not predict what any individual may get from any specific mill supplier. Look to your mill rep for actual lead times. Our lead times are meant only to identify trends and changes in the marketplace. To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Lead Times data, visit our website here.

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