The UK construction sector is booming at the moment. With such a high demand for construction projects, we’re finding our customers are facing a number of key challenges:
Skilled labour shortage
UK employers are currently facing the worst staff shortages since the late 1990s. The increased demand for labour has been compounded by a shrinking supply. This has not been helped by Brexit – over the past four years the EU construction workforce in the UK has declined by 54%. The problem of lacking skilled labor is that it not only affects your output and ability to meet deadlines, but it puts you at risk of falling behind your competitors.
The surge in demand for building materials is being seen globally and is attributable to a number of factors. These include the biggest investment in the UK’s infrastructure and housing since the last world war, a global pandemic and Brexit. Shortages are being seen across a number of products. Those hit the hardest are however reported to be plastic, timber, cement, steel and aggregates. Some of our plastic products have been impacted by this as manufacturers have struggled to source the key ingredient – polymer. In the case of polymers, this has also been impacted by freak weather. Texas is one of the biggest exporters of this material and when the state experienced sub-freezing temperatures for a sustained period in February, this led to its plants having to shut.
Increase in costs
With a shortage in both skilled labour and materials, this has led to a significant increase in costs for construction companies. The cost of materials has been further compounded by a shortage in global shipping capacity. Shipping costs from Asia to the UK soared 500 per cent between June 2020 and June 2021, according to Philip Damas, head of supply chain advisers at maritime consultants Drewry. Many UK manufacturers are reliant on these containers as a means to transport key ingredients for their products.
How to ensure you get the products you need?
The shortage of building materials is not expected to disappear anytime soon so it’s something UK builders will need to manage during 2021.
At Cotterill Civils, we’ve been working hard to ensure our customers get the products they need. We don’t rely on a single manufacturer, which means we can call on different suppliers for any one product at any time, minimising the impact of shortages. We also keep large stocks in our yard that we’re continually replenishing.
This is, however, a national issue that all merchants are experiencing so some of our products will have longer lead times. We’re keeping our customers well informed and we recommend, when you can, that you order in advance, whether purchasing from us or any other supplier.
It’s also worth considering using different materials for your products if you’re struggling to get them for a specific time. For example, you could use clay sewer pipe instead of plastic, galvanised steel culvert pipe instead of plastic or concrete rings rather than plastic. You get the gist! At Cotterill Civils we supply a wide range of civils and drainage products – give us a call today on 0121 351 3230 to speak to one of our specialists. We’d be more than happy to advise.