Aarsleff UK is warning that the time between securing a contract and being able to mobilise on site is coming under strain as the number of contracts being let increases.
Managing director Chris Primett said: “Whilst it is great to see signs of recovery within the construction sector, the demand this presents on a finite pool of resources, positions occupied by the specialist contractor such as piling, is considerable. The ability to adapt to the rate of contracts available is not an easy one and has the potential to ultimately present itself on site.”
With lead times for many construction materials being stretched, with some block manufacturers quoting lead times of four months and longer, as well as for the services of the specialist contractors, Aarsleff says there are wider ramifications. “Any delays can cause problems on site but they could also threaten the rate of the UK’s recovery and possibly lead to swings in the price of construction products and services as a consequence of supply and demand.”
Mr Primett continued: “As well as a better appreciation by Tier 1 contractors and clients that longer lead times may be needed, there must also be a better understanding of the effects moving previously programmed start dates can have on a specialist contractor, as this might have quite a significant impact, especially for any follow-on-projects that may have been committed to. Piling, as the work of specialist contractors, has always been considered a long lead-time element and where these appear on the construction time-scale or pathway, they should be given due consideration and scheduling so that any delays do not to impact on the entire project.”
He acknowledged that suppliers and subcontractors had a role to play in preventing scheduling problems. “It is important that specialist contractors clearly identify lead times and communicate these to clients from the outset of discussions,” he said. “This will allow projects to be planned better, with works scheduled and front-end elements like piling and ground works may even benefit from early contract placement to protect the entire project and remove them as the rate limiting step for future works on the construction pathway.”