Lead times of aluminum electrolytic capacitors are expected to remain stable in the 12- to 16-week range, said component suppliers. However, lead times may extend out as far as 32 weeks (including six weeks for delivery) for some types, according to Avnet's December Market & Technology Trends report. The distributor also reported that standard lead times for these capacitors typically range between 12 to 14 weeks.
A few aluminum electrolytic capacitor manufacturers, including Elna America and Vishay Intertechnology, recently told me that lead times are stable. They also don't anticipate any lead-time issues this year. These capacitors are used in a variety of applications, including automotive, medical and industrial.
However, both suppliers said they see increased demand for aluminum electrolytic capacitors in the automotive sector, but this shouldn't impact deliveries. Lead times have been holding steady at 12 weeks, said David J. Valletta, executive vice president worldwide sales, Vishay Intertechnology, Malvern, Pa.
Valletta also noted that Vishay has "decent production capacity" for aluminum capacitors, and has enough capacity to meet market demand. Vishay, a relatively niche player in the aluminum electrolytic capacitor market, primarily serves the automotive industry, which is a predictable and relatively stable business, said Valletta.
Kent Sterrett, vice president sales and operations, ELNA America Inc., Atlanta, Ga., also noted the component manufacturer has "enough capacity to handle all current demand. We're still sitting at a very steady 16-week lead time for the better part of the year now." These deliveries include standard boat and ground transportation, he said.
Like Vishay, ELNA America sees big business from the automotive sector. Demand is up and a lot of that demand is coming from the automotive sector, said Sterrett. "We have seen a very heavy increase over the past year especially with automotive electronics. As the economy starts to improve, automotive sales continue to increase and demand for electronic content continues to increase."
All indications point to continued demand in 2014, added Sterrett. "If you look at what all the auto makers are predicting for their car sales in 2014, it's going to be above 2013 levels so demand should continue on through 2014 and 2015."
One of the newest components getting a lot of attention in the automotive sector is the hybrid solid conductive polymer type capacitor. While you're not likely to see high-volume production of these capacitors until 2016, there is a lot of sampling activity for next-generation designs, said Sterrett.
The advantages of these hybrid caps include very low equivalent series resistance (ESR), and very high ripple current in relatively small surface-mount packages. "That is what has a lot of interest from automotive customers. They want to be able to downsize more and get more bang for the buck," said Sterrett.
It should be noted that these hybrid caps can be used in other applications including consumer electronics.
Although aluminum electrolytic capacitor manufacturers don't anticipate any supply or lead-time issues this year, it only makes sense to keep in contact with your suppliers to ensure that your company is not caught without the necessary volumes to keep production lines up and running.