Collaboration in Construction
It’s been a difficult few years for the construction industry and, as we’ve begun to emerge from the pandemic, we’re coming across a whole new set of hurdles. With Brexit beginning to bite in earnest and the ongoing situation in Ukraine, we are hearing about the enormous pressure that our contracting partners are under from their supply chain – both in terms of securing materials on time, and their associated costs.
Whilst construction has been one of the few industries that was able to continue work (in some capacity) throughout the pandemic, we have noticed some likely-permanent changes that reinforce how important it is to establish collaborative client relationships, flexibility and a solid supply chain.
By taking an innovative, collaborative approach based on over 36 years’ experience, we hope to play our part in providing our contractors with the assurance that we have best practice and systems in place to take the stress out of the glazing elements of their construction projects.
Supply Chain and Materials
Managing efficient, affordable and effective supply chains is particularly challenging at present. The perfect storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the destabilising impacts of Brexit have meant that almost every supplier at each stage of the supply chain is facing their own challenges, making this a particularly difficult time for contractors.
Materials are being held up at various stages of importation and transportation; With what were once reliably short lead times thrown into turmoil, contractors are having to adjust to new and more challenging timelines. In addition, prices are being rapidly hiked for a wide range of fundamental materials – steel, concrete and glass to name but a few.
In fact, the latest Federation of Master Builders report on material costs reveals that the cost of construction materials is at an all-time high. The report reveals that there has been a 10% year-on-year cost rise across all construction-related materials, with some prices on more energy-intensive construction materials jumping by up to 20% (materials that use lots of energy in their production, such as glass, are being hit with increased raw material as well as increased oil and gas costs).
Restrictions imposed by Brexit and Covid-19, raw material and energy cost uplifts associated with conflict in Ukraine, coupled with a post-pandemic up-turn in construction output, has been blamed for the current materials shortages and price rises. Understandably, this then puts pressure elsewhere to save money and reduce or avoid the potential new hurdles these factors create, especially when quotes have been provided based on old costs.
The world of glazing is changing and Cantifix are experiencing the supply chain and price challenges first-hand. Fortunately, we have a number of things to offer to alleviate the pressure, including our network of suppliers, which has been built over our 37 years as an innovative glazing specialist. Our procurement team have been working closely with our suppliers for years, and as loyal customers of our suppliers, we are often able to secure preferential delivery times and the best prices possible on all our materials.
In addition, we work transparently with all our contractors to provide a clear, frank assessment of likely challenges from the outset, and approach projects collaboratively to ensure any potential hurdles – both predictable and unforeseen – can be addressed smoothly.
Efficiency in Process
In addition to the challenges presented across the supply chain, it’s currently proving particularly difficult to source fitters and subcontractors for glazing installations – something that, again, is largely due to the impact of the pandemic combined with Brexit.
At Cantifix, we have taken proactive steps to help minimise these issues when it comes to glazing solutions; we employ our own team of nationwide fitters, reducing the need to expend time and effort subcontracting, and ensuring that all work on our glass installations is completed to the highest standard, by a team that we – and by extension you – know and trust.
Another core challenge is that of deposit payments: contractors are regularly finding themselves cornered by the requirement for large deposits, with nothing to value these against and, in some instances, find themselves in the situation of funding this for their clients. Moreover, many subcontractors can be entirely inflexible when it comes to the deposit required, often meaning that contractors are forced to look elsewhere, perhaps impacting on the final result of the project.
Cantifix aims to be flexible wherever we can, to ensure that we are able to work with as many contractors to deliver top-quality glazing as possible – even if this means reducing the deposit required in order to work with a contractor. What’s more, we offer vesting certificates to give you and your client greater peace of mind when purchasing from Cantifix.
Ultimately, challenges arise when the approach towards working on any construction project isn’t cohesive and unified: if there are numerous parties involved, processes can become disjointed and more complicated than necessary. For example, a lack of R&D incorporated into the early stages of a glazing project can result in missed opportunities, wasted money, and delays.
At Cantifix, we have a collective desire to do the very best work possible, with the same end goal as our clients, and the same vision to get there as the contractors and architects that we work with to achieve that.
We have our own in-house R&D team, meaning that we can create completely bespoke solutions to the unique problems our clients, contractors and architects face. At the recently opened Roman Villa Museum down at the Newt in Somerset, the client wanted a completely frameless glass walkway suspended above the remains of a ruined Roman villa – so far, so easy. The challenge becomes harder when the need for a balustrade (to protect both the ruins and visitors in the event of a fall). The client didn’t want any framework to impede views of the ruins, so we had to hang the glass floor from the balustrades by laminating fixing points into the balustrade glass and then hanging the floor off the balustrade by bolting through the floor into the fixing points. Without our dedicated R&D team and design experts, such an ingenious, elegant solution wouldn’t have come about.
Breaking Down Borders
Since the pandemic has forced us all to change the way we work, with many more of us working remotely than ever before, contractors are more readily able to tap into the high levels of service, in-house design, aftercare, and expertise that glazing specialists like Cantifix can offer – regardless of where in the country (or even the world) the contractor and project are located.
We’ve put processes in place to collaborate on work remotely – ensuring that even contractors in rural (and indeed, international) locations have access to the expertise, service and quality offered by Cantifix. The need for innovation over the last year means that distance now isn’t a barrier to effective, collaborative work across the UK, which provides even more opportunity for contractors to collaborate with the right specialists around the country.
There’s no denying the scope and scale of the challenges facing contractors and the construction industry in the current climate. But despite these roadblocks, there are plentiful opportunities when it comes to glazing; while accessing and unlocking them requires a spirit of collaboration and innovation, combined with the resources and experience to push through the challenges, at Cantifix, we’re listening to our contractor partners – we hear you, we know the problems you need solved, and we’re taking steps wherever we can to help solve them.