There is a huge microchip shortage happening around the world at this very moment. It’s affecting supply distribution for many industries, especially the HVAC industry. But what does a microchip shortage mean, exactly?
If you disassembled all of the electronics in your home, or even in just the room you’re in right now, you’d find dozens, if not more, microchips inside all the different devices you rely on throughout the day. You’d also probably ruin all those things you’d taken apart, so perhaps it’s just better to imagine all the microchips inside your television, kitchen appliances, and other electronic items. You rely on microchips more than you probably know!
Why are Microchips so Important?
But what is a microchip, and what does it do? A microchip is a very small electronic circuit. ASML.com explains that a microchip is, “a set of electronic circuits on a small flat piece of silicon. On the chip, transistors act as miniature electrical switches that can turn a current on or off. The pattern of tiny switches is created on the silicon wafer by adding and removing materials to form a multilayered latticework of interconnected shapes.” These integral parts are in all modern Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems. They are at the “heart” of the system, making sure all the electronic components function correctly and according to the wishes of you, the end user.
So what happens when it is difficult to obtain microchips? When a supply chain gets interrupted due to manufacturing, shipping, or supply issues, that means that it gets harder to make anything that relies on the parts that are currently stuck in a container or unable to even be made in the first place. Although these problems seem like they only matter to manufacturers far away, it can affect you and your home comfort if HVAC manufacturers are unable to build the air conditioning units that homes require.
What’s Causing the Shortage?
It is hard to take in the globe-spanning process of making nearly anything today. For microchips, it takes the sourcing of materials like high-quality silicon. The material then has to be brought to facilities where they can create the basic components of the microchips. These components are then shipped all over the world to manufacturers who are creating a huge variety of microchips used in thousands of different items.
Once the microchips are made, they are shipped back around the world to different manufacturing and assembly plants. There, workers install them in the electronic devices that require them to function. Beyond that, the manufactured goods that have the microchips installed have to travel, you guessed it, around the globe. This time they’re going to the distributors and shops that will finally get the finished product to consumers.
The ability to move materials and products around the world to get things made is amazing, and a true marvel of the modern world. Naturally, there are a lot of things that can go wrong among this complex network and when one thing goes wrong it can compound into a huge delay for necessary deliveries.
For example, a boat setting out across international waters can get halted if, say, another boat wedges itself into a canal and totally blocks the water for days. Shortages in gas or available drivers can mean that truckloads of supplies will be delayed. Issues or recalls with the raw materials or a manufacturing flaw can also delay the finished product from coming to market. Just to add to all the previous examples, random events like natural disasters can also destroy or severely delay supplies getting to where they need to be.
How Does This Affect HVAC Systems?
Right now, supply chain issues are delaying many items, including microchips. Many large manufacturers are feeling a supply chain pinch when it comes to the microchip shortage. Each small issue with getting the components that make up microchips causes a “trickle-down effect”. This means your local, licensed HVAC service providers may not be able to get the air conditioners, thermostats, and other electronic components they need.
Microchips are a vital piece of technology in HVAC systems. You can’t build air conditioners without them! As wholesale providers suffer slow downs, this may mean that your home may have to wait weeks or months to get a new air conditioner, heat pump, or other HVAC component.
Don’t Wait on Maintenance!
While you may not be able to solve the intricate problems of the global supply chain, you can take action at home! Preventative maintenance is the best way to make sure your air conditioner remains in good working order.
Have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned twice a year by a local, licensed HVAC service provider. With bi-annual maintenance, your technicians can make sure that your HVAC system is working as well as possible. They can also anticipate and inform you about any potential issues. These inspections can also help catch small problems and solve them before they become big issues that can shut your HVAC system down. Be sure to schedule a cleaning in the Spring and in the Fall so you can be ahead of switching your system from heating to cooling and vice-versa.
Please also be patient if your service providers have delays when it comes to replacement parts. They want to provide exceptional service. However, the supply chain issues are far beyond their power to resolve them.
SEE ALSO: How Important is Regular Maintenance
Navigating the HVAC Microchip Shortage
Microchips are a vital part of modern life. They make it possible for cars, phones, televisions, and air conditioners among thousands of other devices to work as intended. When the global supply chain slows down in one spot, through things like natural disasters or manufacturing slow-downs, this causes repercussions around the world. When microchips are in short supply, HVAC system production and installation also slows down. Many items simply may not be available. Properly maintaining your HVAC system is the best way to deal with the microchip shortage. It’s also important to understand that if you are waiting on delayed parts, your local HVAC service provider is not to blame.