The construction industry’s record supply shortages have been affecting builders for well over a year now. A perfect storm of extreme weather, a pandemic and a government building stimulus has resulted in Australia’s worst material shortage in over 40 years.
Construction has been heralded as the golden ticket out of recession from the pandemic, with federal and state governments providing enticing economic benefits for builders including Victoria’s Big Build scheme and the Morrison Government’s HomeBuilder stimulus which is forecast to drive more than 143,700 new builds this year. Add record low interest rates to the mix, and the demand for construction is high across all sectors.
Hansen Yuncken Construction Manager Scott Brumfeld said shortages go beyond simply getting materials onshore.
Extreme rainfall and flash flooding across certain regions, particularly Queensland, have impacted suppliers’ ability to transport materials around the country.
“Delays in sourcing materials, from international suppliers especially, is not a new issue for Australia, given its geographical location, but one exacerbated by COVID-19 among other factors and we now have a crisis on our hands,” Scott said.
Hansen Yuncken is one builder combating the shortage by providing innovative solutions to the crisis and ensuring expectations are met with few disruptions for clients.
“Testament to the Hansen Yuncken team however, we were able to carry out these project works while remaining under budget. The main tactics used to mitigate the crisis is by incorporating “shop drawings”, or design intent plans, as early as possible to try and give clients an idea of costings and timings to the best of our ability.”
Given the ever-changing landscape in Australia that comes with the pandemic, Scott expects the supply shortages won’t ease any time soon.
“It is almost inevitable this will be an ongoing issue so addressing it now will actually benefit the industry, and therefore Australia’s economy, long term,” said Mr Brumfield.
Another pressing issue Hansen Yuncken is working to alleviate is the rising price of steel, which is up 15% with lead times of up to 18 months.
“Australia’s best insurance is providing support for local capacity of steel production which the Federal and State Governments have been doing well to promote – more efforts toward supporting local producers would certainly help,” Scott said.
HY’s main strategy involves expanding their supplier relationships to mitigate risk of long drawn-out delays.
One such example of the strategy’s success was the construction of the Q Building at the University of Newcastle, which required extensive use of timber.
Project Manager for the Q Building Jonathan Russell said this build “required a unique approach, navigating the long lead time for timber supply from Europe during a global pandemic.”
“Thanks to our well-developed BIM management techniques, advanced build methodology and reliable partner networks, not only did we manage to secure a total of 24 container loads of timber and accessories, but we also completed the mass timber elements ahead of schedule,” said Mr Russell.
Scott Brumfeld said despite this period being “possibly the most challenging… since Australia’s pre-Olympics construction boom in the 1990s,” there are ways to curb the challenges and continue to deliver projects to a high standard and on-time.
“Testament to the dedicated workers across Australia’s construction sector, we will continue to find innovative ways to keep working,” he said.
How is your company innovating to combat the resource challenge and meet delivery timelines on projects? Email [email protected] to share your story with the industry.
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