5 trends impacting construction supply chains

Published: August 8, 2022
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Supply chain challenges have been an ongoing issue for everyone from the construction industry to retail and hospitality. Even consumers are noticing less choice and longer lead times when they shop, hire a contractor, or make home improvements.

While Brexit, the war in Ukraine, COVID-19 and that incident in the Suez Canal are all well-known factors that have disrupted the supply chain, there are other, less obvious forces at play.

1. The Building Safety Act

This bill, granted royal assent in April 2022, sets out changes to the ways some structures are built and maintained. It also outlines new safety requirements, such as reforms to fire safety and quality standards for construction products. The National Regulator for Construction Products is responsible for monitoring and enforcing this.

There is also a new developer tax and levy to ensure the right people are accountable for rectifying any mistakes that lead to unsafe buildings.

This will increase the demand for products that meet the required safety standards until manufacturers can scale up operations as use of these materials becomes the norm. While this is good news for building owners and residents, it could exacerbate shortages, which brings us to the second point on our list.

2. Material Shortages

The industry is still recovering from shockwaves that started back in 2020. While the Timber Trade Federation is now receiving historic levels of timber imports, supplies are still strained and prices are high.

Supply and demand isn’t the only issue at play here, the shortage of HGV drivers to transport products is still causing problems. Despite visas being made available for overseas lorry drivers, applications are low, and there’s frequent congestion causing delays at UK borders.

3. The growing skills gap and challenges around recruitment

Sadly, it’s not just HGV drivers who are in short supply. In the UK, there aren’t enough recruits joining the sector to replace skilled workers who are retiring, and the number of EU workers has decreased by 42% according to the Office for National Statistics.

There are also calls for the construction industry to actively promote inclusivity and diversity to make the industry more accessible and appealing to a wider range of workers. This includes adapting the workplace for people with disabilities and offering more flexible hours and a better work-life balance.

4. Employee wellbeing and retention

With a scarcity of skilled workers, employee wellbeing is also in the spotlight. Poor mental health is the second highest cause of occupational illness in the construction industry according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Stress, depression and anxiety can be caused by strict project deadlines and unhealthy workplace cultures that can be difficult to change. However, investing in employee wellbeing is vital to retain talent and keep projects running on time.

5. Shifts in societal priorities

New rules on Net Zero mean companies need to find ways to reduce emissions across the supply chain and design buildings with lower carbon footprints going forwards. While actual regulations only apply to government contracts worth more than £5 million per year, sustainability is an increasing priority, and it would be smart to make changes now in line with regulations that may follow in the future.

But that’s not the only way pressure from society is shaping new developments. The notion of social value is also having an impact. Social value means how a building adds value to society, the economy and the environment, and there’s growing demand for more consistent ways to measure it.

The Social Value Portal has developed the National TOMS (Themes, Outcomes and Measures), a framework to help measure and report on social value.

At Multiproject, we can help you make clearer predictions and identify any issues that could impact your project early on. Get in touch with the team on 020 7096 8235.