HOUSTON – A nationwide semiconductor chip shortage is putting several industries in a tough spot.
Patricia Maddux owns Experimax Computer Repair. She says the chip shortage is making it hard to keep her customers happy. She described one customer’s current experience.
“He’s not getting any power to his computer. So, it won’t be able to operate for him until that ICU chip is replaced.” Maddux said. “It’s been probably about 20 days now that we’ve been waiting on that chip.”
In addition to computers, these chips are also used in cars, smartphones, TVs, refrigerators and more. They’re also used in arguably the most important items used during the COVID-19 pandemic: medical equipment and the machines that create them.
Omri Shafran owns Texas Medical Technology, which makes gloves, masks, medical devices and more. He says the shortage has been jacking up the production costs and forcing drastic changes, including replacing the LEDs used in their products.
COMMERCE SECRETARY: NO QUICK FIX FOR CHIP SHORTAGE
“To put in mind these LEDs are very rare to get at first. This pandemic created a much worse shortage, that forced us as managers and entrepreneurs to redesign our product,” Shafran said.
He says his company regularly goes nearly a month and a half without the chips needed for product manufacturing.
“Sometimes you can find yourself with 90 days with no chip. It’s caused us to triple our procurement team, because right now, we need to source in different countries,” Shafran said.
Not only are the adjustments costly, but they’re also needed now, as hospitals see an increase of patients and streamlining health care approaches becomes a top priority.
Dr. Carlos Encarnacion, a cardiothoracic surgeon at HCA Houston Healthcare, said the increased patient volume is due to lower COVID-19 hospitalization numbers in recent months.
“Overall, the volume and the amount of patients seeking care is increasing just because people are getting back to their normal routines and seeking their doctors,” he added.
The White House is proposing a nearly $52 billion bill to help the semiconductor industry with production and supply chain issues.
For now, companies like Texas Medical Technology are looking to do as much production in the U.S. as possible to avoid supply chain delays.