2022 is off to a running start at Semco. We began gathering our momentum around the midpoint of 2021. Last summer was the beginning of an aggressive growth for this graphite company. The amount of orders rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and then surpassed those levels. We think that 2022 will be a record-setting year for us.
At Semco, we often think about our fundamentals, the key graphite elements that make our business thrive. Keeping these things in focus is our strategy for success. Of course, our most important resource is our employees. We are, unfortunately, experiencing a job market that remains uncertain, as the pandemic continues to affect the availability of skilled personnel. To maintain and grow our reputation as an excellent graphite company, we need to retain our skilled workforce and grow it as our production ramps up. This will be a key graphite element in 2022--continuing to take great care of our employees and make Semco the graphite company that skilled machinists, engineers, and office staff want to work for.
Two other graphite elements key to our growth strategy for 2022 are continued improvement of our on-time delivery rate and measurable reduction in our scrap rates. In fact, we started a program two years ago to collect, analyze, and act on data about these two metrics. When we began this program, our on-time delivery rates were around 80%. Now they are near 97%. Likewise, our scrap rates have moved from 1.30% out of total sales to 0.8%. It may not look like we have much margin for improvement in either of these metrics, but that’s not how we see it. For this new year, our goal is 100% on-time delivery and under 0.5% scrap rate. To maintain our customers’ opinion of us as the best graphite company, and to grow our customer base, on-time delivery has to continue to be a top priority. Our incredibly low scrap rates prove that our workforce is world class.
The last graphite element that will be central to our growth strategy this year is capital investment. We see the year 2022 as the year of capital investment at Semco, and we are wasting no time. We just acquired one of our largest pallet changer CNC mills, an acquisition that allows for larger production runs and a higher level of automatization. This machine is a big gain for the mills department and also for our customers. We are currently in the process of installing two brand new CNC lathes, which together will double our capacity in the turning department. These new machines make us the envy of many other graphite companies. Lastly, we have doubled down on our domestic graphite suppliers. With the increase (in some cases, astronomical increases) in shipping costs for our overseas raw material deliveries, we made the decision to really focus on domestic partnerships that can help us avoid the increase in expenses caused by the increase in shipping costs from China. We foresee the cooperation with these domestic producers increasing over this year until the majority of our raw materials are produced here in the USA.
Stay tuned for updates on our 2022 progress as the year goes along.