SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Flat at Healthy Level

Written by Tim Triplett

Mill lead times for spot orders of flat rolled steel extended by more than a week during last year’s fourth quarter, but so far this year have been fairly flat. The average lead time for orders of hot roll is now a bit less than five weeks, cold roll around six and a half weeks and coated steels near seven weeks. Plate is at five weeks.

Comparing the data, the average lead time for spot orders of hot rolled last week was 4.81 weeks, little changed 4.85 in early January. Cold rolled last week was at 6.59 weeks, versus 6.52 weeks the month prior. Galvanized was at 7.08, down just slightly from 7.15, while Galvalume was at 7.22 weeks. The average plate lead time last week was 5.00 weeks, slightly shorter than the 5.33 in SMU’s survey in mid-January.

Lead times for steel delivery are an indicator of demand at the mill level. The longer the lead time, the busier the mill. With lead times registering little change for several weeks, it’s difficult to gauge market direction. Currently, the numbers suggest relatively healthy order levels.

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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