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RCI May 2014

INDUSTRY NEWS New CPA chairman John Sinfield appeals for “vibrant, long-term, cross-party industrial strategy” to address supply chain issues The chairman of the Construction Products Association (CPA) has called on industry and political parties to address the challenges faced by the entire construction supply chain. In a speech to 500 industry executives and Government officials at the CPA Annual Lunch, held at the Dorchester in London, RCI heard John Sinfield point out that the Association recently forecast the construction industry’s contribution to the wider UK economy will grow from £110 billion this year to £130 billion by 2017. Mr. Sinfield said: “A year ago we were suffering one of the worst quarters in recent memory, and speaking hopefully of the ‘dark before the dawn’. We now have a firmly entrenched recovery underway across both the construction and manufacturing industries and the wider UK economy. This is the time for our industry to come together and speak with a coherent voice on a number of pressing issues.” Arguably one of the most pressing of these issues, supply chain pressures have been steadily growing as positive activity returns to UK construction. Given the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming General Election, Mr. Sinfield has appealed for action to tackle the issue. “We need manufacturing to be underpinned by a vibrant, longterm, 2014 staves off skills shortages to provide further growth 08 MAY 2014 RCIMAG.COM cross-party industrial strategy which enables the UK to capture supply chain advantages for firms here in this country. “The Association is already undertaking a number of projects in support of the Industrial Strategy for Construction which are at the heart of these matters. One is a study of a long-term projection of construction output and an analysis of the current level of capacity for construction product manufacturing. “Another is to assess the regulatory and political risks that may inhibit further investment in businesses here. All of this will provide clarity and insight for policy-makers and help them appreciate the challenges we face. The latest Construction Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) confirmed the presence of troubling issues within the supply chain, with delivery times for raw materials lengthened to the second-greatest extent since July 1997, beaten only by November 2013’s figures. The report also showed that firms are reporting a decrease in subcontractor availability. There have been additional reports of supply chain pressures causing higher cost burdens with the overall rate of input price inflation increasing. Mr. Sinfield concluded: “There is a tremendous amount of very important work to be done which will have a very real impact on our businesses. However, we are well placed as the leading voice within our industry to help the wider construction and manufacturing communities to engage and work together.” www.constructionproducts.org.uk Private housing, commercial and industrial sectors have all reached new heights, although skills shortages threaten the pace of recovery, according to the latest Construction Market Survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The net balance of workloads in these three sectors were the drivers of the growth shown in the first quarter of 2014, all achieving series highs during this period. When combined, these sectors represent approximately half of UK construction output, suggesting that, based on the strength of the RICS indicators, the industry is set to continue its expansion. This is further supported by the confidence of the survey’s respondents, which has also increased to previously unknown levels. On average, respondents expect workloads to expand by a further 3.8% in 2014. Expectations for employment growth are equally positive, with the RICS Employment Expectations series creeping above last quarter’s high to reach 56. Respondents now envisage headcounts in the industry increasing by roughly 3% over the year. With about 2.12 million employed in the sector, this roughly translates into about 64,000 more jobs. Despite this positive sentiment within the industry, financial constraints remain the single biggest restriction on activity, with 68% stating that it was holding back construction output. The RICS survey also found that skills shortages are continuing to affect a wide range of trades in most parts of the country. It was found that 41% of respondents have faced difficulties when sourcing skilled workers, causing concern that current levels of growth are unstable. Anthony Dillon of main contractor Willmott Dixon said: “Although the increased confidence in the market is welcome, there is a significant risk that the industry goes from flat to overheating in a matter of months due to the capacity which has left the industry in the last few years in terms of professional staff, trades and subcontractors.” This feeling is echoed throughout the survey’s testimonials, with responses from around the country expressing concerns over the dangers posed by the lack of skilled workers. Alan Muse, RICS director of Built Environment, said: “Clearly what we are seeing as the recovery takes shape, is that the impact of skills shortages in parts of the country where companies failed to invest in attracting new talent or in the training of existing employees at the height of the economic downturn. Now that the industry is experiencing an upturn in workload that is broadening out across the whole of the UK, it must ensure it has the capability to capitalise on these opportunities.” www.rics.org/uk BIM adoption almost certain according to national survey The latest National Building Specification (NBS) National BIM Survey has found that over 90% of those surveyed believe that BIM will be fully adopted by the Government’s 2016 deadline. The study found that awareness of BIM is now almost universal at 95%, and adoption rates are accelerating with more than half of respondents now using the modelling system. It was also found that 93% of those asked predict adoption of BIM by the Government’s deadline for BIM use on publicly funded projects by 2016. More than 1,000 people from across the construction industry including architects, engineers, surveyors and contractors took part in this year’s survey, which the NBS says makes it the largest independent piece of research into usage of and attitudes to BIM in the UK. Now in its fourth year, the National BIM Survey has shown that 70% of specifiers agree that the adoption of BIM brings them a competitive advantage. Improvements in productivity, increased efficiencies, better coordination of construction information and higher profitability are among the benefits cited by adopters of BIM, with just 4% wishing they hadn’t begun using the system. More than half of the survey’s respondents source BIM objects from a specialist BIM library which is expected to increase as more manufacturers make their products available. If this does not take place, the risks of objects becoming out of date or obsolete if created in-house and re-used will grow. For this reason, 77% of specifiers believe that manufacturers need to provide more BIM objects. Ian Chapman, director of the NBS National BIM Library, said: “It is vital to the success of BIM that manufacturers are in a position to provide accurate, up to date information via BIM objects. We’re delighted to see how many of the respondents in the survey are already using the NBS National BIM Library and we’re continuing to introduce improvements, which benefit both the manufacturers and specifiers.” John Sinfield, who is also managing director of Northern Europe for Knauf Insulation, recently took over from Geoff Cooper as CPA chairman


RCI May 2014
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