More growers plan ahead by acquiring backup parts before harvest
Growers are opting to acquire backup parts for farm equipment as wheat harvest approaches. They're doing it because some parts, readily and immediately available under normal circumstances, are no longer so thanks to accrued and ongoing shipping delays
It's not a universal problem, however. Depending in part on geographical origin, some materials remain widely available to Ontario growers.
Why it matters: Breakdowns during wheat harvest could take longer to remedy because shipping delays could affect timely delivery of parts.
Equipment dealers have generally been able to maintain stocks of common parts, says Brian Osterndorff, owner of Roberts Farm Equipment Sales Inc. and vice-chair for the Canada East Equipment Dealers' Association.
Most parts from North America arrive from manufacturers faster than originally anticipated, he says. Filling back orders is easier as a result, although the list of orders continues to grow.
"It's moving better than everyone thought," says Osterndorff, adding farm customers appear to understand next-day service is not as easy as it used to be, and they are planning ahead.
"Some are buying earlier just in case. Extra blades, extra bolts, that kind of thing…They're just taking a few extras. Nobody is hoarding or buying massive quantities."
Specialized products, or those imported from overseas, are harder to come by.
Electronic components – parts where at least some portion is comprised of imported electronic systems – are among the most elusive.
While a week or two of delay was common through most of 2020, November and December brought substantially greater times between order placement and arrival, says Chuck Baresich, general manager of Haggerty Creek Ltd.
That trend did not affect those working on equipment during the early part of the year, but it challenged growers and service providers who waited until March or April.
"We had orders that were five to six weeks for very simple things. We had to plan ahead and tell customers we couldn't make any guarantees," says Baresich. "I think what's happened is farmers are rethinking our whole stocking inventory position… We've been given indications things are not going to change anytime soon."
Baresich says his company's customers have told him more basic, North American-made parts are readily available. There's also a recognition that next-day service is not always possible.
"Our customers are telling us that moving forward they're going to get some of these things ahead of time."
As light stocks persist, Osterndorff and Baresich both say creativity in equipment repair, including making do with existing parts, refurbishing others and cannibalizing other equipment for the necessary components, has kept growers and dealers rolling.
"Most dealers do whatever they can do to keep people going. I don't think there's a dealer out there that will let their customers down," says Osterndorff.