Labour & Supply Chain Delays & Disruption, October 2020
Labour & Supply Chain Delays & Disruption
Additional works have been carried out at the initial stages of the pandemic due to the new restrictions imposed including new policies and procedures as below:
- Covid 19 return to work assessments
- Covid 19 Strategy & procedure compilation & auditing
- Site inspections to determine Covid 19 Strategy Implementation
- Covid 19 Site Checklists
All the above has had to be in place before works could be continued on site safely and the effect of these measures include social distancing during construction activities at a distance of 2m which is again slowing down the progress of works.
Delays have been encountered with the additional cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation of workplaces before works can be carried out
The effects which have had the longest delays associated are issues related to reduced workforce, with government schemes in place to furlough workers a large portion of subcontractor workforce have been on the furlough scheme and are unavailable to carry out works in an efficient manner. Any operatives who have remained working have been overstretched and as a result there has been less resource available to service the sites. As the pandemic has continued through the third quarter of 2020 the issues of furloughed workforce has lessened, however the impact of Covid 19 testing, self-isolation & care for relatives who are shielding has had a similar effect on the levels of resource available on site. With a second wave of infections being experienced in recent weeks we have seen groups of tradesmen having to self-isolate due to testing positive for the disease or returning from high infection rate countries.
Material Procurement and Supply Chain Delays & Disruption
The major issues the sites have encountered have been mainly related to the global disruption to the regular supply & demand of materials in construction due to the vast reduction of projects commencing or existing projects being stopped in April & May 2020.
Feedback we have had from our supply chain is that manufactured materials have been stockpiled during the downturn in construction activity and then repurposed for the DIY sector therefore when the activity resumed there has been a shortage with the supply trying to catch up with the increased demand. For example timber for use as structural panels or partitions was stockpiled during early 2nd quarter 2020 and was then repurposed into fencing products to supply the busy DIY market, this has disrupted the regular flow of materials and as a result the supplies of fencing timbers being manufactured has then been rationed causing issues with supply on both sites.
A similar situation has been encountered with plaster products, as the demand lessened the manufacturing facilities ceased production and the subsequent increased demand has then meant stockpiles have been sold leaving a period in May & June where limited availability of plaster skim has skyrocketed prices due to the limited supply.
More recently issues have been encountered with difficulty in haulage & shipping of materials from overseas, feedback has been that there is a global shortage of shipping containers affecting supply of internal doors & fencing products in particular, with lead in times from order placement as much as 12 weeks in comparison to the normal 1 – 2 weeks.
Additional to the above issues, most builders merchants shut down at the height of the first wave and less staff working in manufacturing facilities has had a considerable effect on the availability of construction materials and the lead in times from order to delivery to site.
All of the above has had the inevitable effect of pushing prices for labour and materials up considerably, which in turn has meant alternatives have to be considered to try to mitigate delays & price increases, again causing delays to the material & subcontract procurement process.