MORE THAN two years after the first COVID-19 lockdown, the construction sector is still feeling the impact of those first few weeks, when sites closed and building products production was paused. After the initial shockwaves, construction programmes resumed alongside manufacturing, but the spike in demand, coupled with the hiatus in production, meant that stocks were never replenished by many manufacturers – and they are still playing catch-up.
Meanwhile, that pattern has been felt throughout the supply chain, with raw material processing also struggling to catch up with demand, and logistics issues adding to the problem.
Now, with war in Ukraine exacerbating the problems, particularly for the roofing sector, which depends so heavily on polymers from Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring countries, the impact on availability and prices is escalating.
Addressing the Issues
So, what can be done to ensure roofing contractors have the right products, at the right price, when they need them on site?
There is no point in sugaring the pill about price rises: across the supply chain, it is clear that price rises have been substantial. And with continuing issues around reliability of supply and price inflation for raw materials, along with rising energy costs, it seems unlikely that there will be much respite.
PVC membranes have been particularly hard hit because a number of manufacturers have simply ceased production due to the escalating costs for a commodity roofing technology. This has increased the pressure on availability, pushing prices still higher.
At Soprema UK, there are several ways in which we’ve been able to help customers respond effectively to supply chain and cost issues.
Firstly, as part of a large, multi-national company with 81 manufacturing sites around the world, we have both the buying power and manufacturing capacity to keep material costs lower, secure supplies and keep production at pre-pandemic levels. This means that we have excellent availability across the range.
Our focus on building envelope solutions means that we can offer multiple technologies and our technical expertise enables us to provide valuable advice on the most cost-effective solution for the project. With an open and proactive approach to advising customers, we are working with both specifiers and contractors to help them make the best decisions for they projects, in terms of both cost and availability.
We are also working with customers to help them counter cost uncertainty by enabling them to fix a purchase price at the beginning of their project and pay for storage of their roofing, insulation and ancillary products. This not only enables them to offer a fixed price to their customer and secure their margin; it also gives them peace of mind on availability. We can even arrange storage close to the project location, supporting just in time delivery to site.
The uncertainty of the pandemic and war in Europe have challenged the roofing sector. But, in the words of Winston Churchill, ‘difficulties mastered are opportunities won’, and the need to overcome price and supply chain issues has the potential to lead to closer supply chain partnerships and innovative thinking.