SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Getting Shorter

Written by Tim Triplett

Lead times for spot orders of flat rolled and plate are shortening as steps to control the coronavirus decimate demand. Lead times for steel delivery are a measure of demand at the mill level—the shorter the lead time, the less busy the mill. Average lead times for most products have shortened by roughly half a week since mid-March, according to returns from Steel Market Update’s latest market trends questionnaire.

Hot rolled lead times now average 3.81 weeks, down from 4.50 weeks two weeks ago. Cold rolled orders currently have a lead time of 5.77 weeks, down from 6.28 weeks earlier in March. The current lead time for galvanized steel is 6.39 weeks, compared with 6.84 weeks, while Galvalume is at 6.43 weeks, down from 6.82 weeks in SMU’s last check of the market.

Lead times for spot orders of plate products now average 4.33 weeks, down slightly from 4.64 weeks in mid-March.

The mills have announced a series of furnace idlings and production curtailments that should reduce their near-term capacity and help support lead times at the facilities still in operation.

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.

Latest in SMU Data and Models