As a critical component of any industrial engine, spark plugs have come a long way since their inception more than a century ago. Over the years, the technology has advanced significantly, with increasingly complex designs and rare materials required to keep up with demands for better engine efficiency and performance. In recent years, however, the industry has encountered numerous supply chain and cost issues associated with precious metals, with the prices of vital construction materials used in the production of spark plugs on the rise. Price rises are a cause of concern for all spark plug users, as well as manufacturers; here’s what you need to know about the costs of precious metals used in the making of spark plugs.
Platinum And Palladium Pricing And Availability
Precious metals such as platinum and palladium, among others, have always been necessary components in spark plugs, as they have high melting points and are resistant to corrosion, ensuring they can withstand harsh operating conditions without compromising performance.
However, the war in Ukraine has put significant pressure on the global availability and price of these commodities, as both Ukraine and Russia are leading raw material providers. This geopolitical situation has led to global supply chain issues that can cause delays in getting hold of these metals, seeing an escalation in their prices.
Some manufacturers have tried to mitigate the impact of supply chain issues and price rises by diversifying their supply sources, with varying levels of success. However, this is not always possible for scarce commodities available from only a limited number of locations, and the increase in the cost of production will ultimately always affect consumer prices directly or indirectly, regardless of the efforts of vendors to keep prices competitive.
To compound the matter further, the heavy reliance on platinum and palladium in spark plug production has increased availability issues and delivery delays. The demand for these metals in multiple sectors, which are notoriously difficult to mine and process, has significantly increased, with electric vehicles, in particular, driving much of this demand. Consequently, the price of precious metals used in spark plugs is projected to rise further in 2023 and 2024, with fluctuations in supply and demand likely to contribute to this. Realistically, a stable commodities market situation is unlikely to resume until the Ukraine conflict is resolved.
Rises In Duty
Duty rates on some precious metal imports have also increased by 40%, resulting in further cost implications for manufacturers and users. Technically speaking, spark plugs are an ‘essential component’ in many sectors, and any increase in their production costs usually impacts the cost of other products and services downstream. The current duty rates will undoubtedly push the price of precious metals up further, which will likely have a knock-on effect with the cost of spark plugs, so it's essential to be aware of this when planning your expenditure and component requirements for the next 12 to 24 months.
Rising Costs And Potential Solutions
As a result of all these factors, there has been a significant increase in the cost of spark plugs through both wholesale and general retail outlets. Any engineer who orders these parts for a stationary or industrial engine has probably noticed a price increase in recent times, and this trend is unfortunately expected to continue.
Despite these rising prices, however, it is still essential to ensure your industrial engines have reliable spark plugs to ensure optimal performance and longevity. To offset the unavoidably higher price of spark plugs, quality vendors are investing deeply in product quality and reliability, in order to increase the value of individual components and still ensure excellent value for money.
Spark plug manufacturers are also continuing to explore alternative materials to tackle this material cost challenge and some are experimenting with the use of metals such as iridium, which is, for instance, a good substitute for platinum in some cases.
Next Steps – Order Your spark plugs today from R&M Walsh Ltd
R&M Walsh Ltd is one of the UK’s leading spark plug providers for industrial gas fuelled engines. At a time of supply chain challenges and inflation we are doing our utmost to keep prices as low and competitive as possible, and will avoid any unnecessary price hikes. By diversifying sources and working with the market’s leading spark plug producers, we aim to deliver the best possible value from each purchase, giving you components you can rely on for a wide range of applications.
To find out more about current prices and availability, please contact us today.
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