Tim Wright, managing director of concrete products at Ibstock Concrete (which includes the Forticrete and Supreme Concrete product brands), shares his thoughts on the current roofing materials shortage, and what potential challenges and opportunities 2021 will present for the sector.
Whilst selling everything that you are producing is usually a very positive situation for a manufacturer, we certainly don’t feel like we’re winning in the current climate, and won’t, until all of our customers are receiving the levels of materials they need for their business requirements.
As a business, we understand the importance of assured supply and acknowledge that, due to a number of factors, this isn’t where it needs to be and is a major issue that is affecting both ourselves and the wider market.
Low inventory levels (due to dispatching during lockdown) combined with the mini housing boom and working COVID-safe is all contributing to the challenge.
For Ibstock Concrete, supporting our customers in meeting their commitments and project timescales is our number one priority. In order to do this, we are continuing to implement the most robust and stringent health and safety measures across our network, and are making strategically-led decisions to support the manufacture of Forticrete roofing solutions that are experiencing the highest demand.
This includes the application of strategic shift pattern changes within the factories, which optimise every single hour to increase manufacturing output, whilst operating in a COVID-secure way to continue to protect the health and well-being of our employees, suppliers and customers.
We have also continued to invest in our business, with a range of rationalisation and enhanced product quality protocols implemented to support a reduction in wastage, which subsequently also helps to increase capacity.
If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that we have taken significant key learnings from the challenges of 2020, and once implemented, will ensure unbroken supply of products for the future. A lot of this takes investment and time, but if it provides the right levels of capacity flexibility and assured supply, then our view is its worth doing.
Currently our lead times are variable by product line and are changing rapidly. Now more than ever, we are working in closer collaboration with our clients to successfully plan supply and aid them in fulfilling their project requirements.
Successful customer communication and trust lies at the core of this and we pride ourselves on being a company that is focused on listening to our clients and responding to their needs, now more than ever.