Tuesday, July 27, 2021
We were asked to source AREMA Self Guided Manganese Steel frogs by a company that imports and sells railways fasteners, and they had to be not in C-H-I-N-A, which, if you’re familiar with the global LCC market for things like railway frogs, is difficult, because in that country they not only produce the raw material at quantity and cost that’s difficult to beat, but, more importantly, they are a supermarket to American buyers for American standards and American sizes of things.
As soon as you step out of there to countries like India or Turkey, let alone Vietnam or Thailand or, say, Malaysia (not a huge rail country), the first issue is that the Section 301 country has spent decades running the cost-competitive sources of AREMA Railway fasteners, and in particular SGMS Frogs, largely out of the market.
In our many conversations with different manufacturers in, say, India about the topic, the result was primarily just that they couldn’t compete even with the Section 301 tariffs, which really bring prices down; However, even when they thought they might be able to, many simply said they had no interest in retooling and going through the process of spooling up lines to produce AREMA railbed parts in India (or anywhere) because they felt that as soon as the tariffs went away they’d be left with a dead line.
At the time, we were forced to essentially tell the potential buyer, who we parted on good terms with, that we just couldn’t get it done.
However, since then (this article is being written in April 2022) we’ve harvested and vetted more sources, found some that may be competitive case-by-case, and also China has locked down Shanghai and Guangzhou, among other places, while steel production has plummeted and prices and availability have gone through the roof.
So, in short, we understand the AREMA standards, we know factories who can make manganese steel rail frogs and they may even be competitive - and, most importantly, actually be able to make and ship product unlike the regions mentioned above. If you’re in the market, we may be able to help.
Oh, by the way, even though we weren’t under NDA on this project, we still treat the buyer and their information confidentially. The nature and specs of an AREMA SGMS rail frog fastener, whether from India or anywhere, is not exactly a secret. Still, we used that stock photo of a drawing above, not the buyer’s drawing, and have divulged no confidential info, just our story in sourcing it.
We wrote this from our sourcing experience. Notice how it’s not polished or professional, but also sounds like a real person who does this for a living wrote this? That’s us. No nonsense. We’re American-lead, with American-lead teams in Asia for sourcing and the US to handle your needs, which means we’re on a 24/7 schedule for you. Really, if you’re on the fence, just get in touch. At worst you’ll leave feeling like we took you seriously - and, who knows, might actually fulfill your railway fastener sourcing need.
Sometimes we just can't help, but even in those cases we all learn something from the experience. So, if you've got a sourcing need, tell us what it is and we'll get right on seeing what we can do about it!