A slackening in demand has meant lead times have not been adversely affected by the summer shutdowns according to Mace.
Contrary to expectations, new enquiries for rotary piling → companies are lower than the last quarter. Current projects are sustaining the five-week lead time at present, although all suppliers expect this to fall in the next three months as major projects come to an end.

Precast piling → lead times are maintained at four weeks. Although enquires are lower than last year, suppliers do not anticipate changing the lead time in the next quarter.

Following the slight increase in the previous quarter, steelwork → is unchanged at 10 weeks. Experienced designers and estimators are increasingly scarce, workload is still a little uncertain and firms will still quote shorter lead times than 10 weeks in the search for work.

Curtain walling → companies are all busy but claim that 19 weeks is still achievable, with only one company reporting a longer lead-in. Concerns over high-performance glass procurement should ease in the new year, as manufacturers increase capacity to respond to the Part L building regulations.

A slowing of demand for atrium roofing ↓ has led to a reduction in lead times of two weeks, to 28 overall. Suppliers believe this is a short-term correction and are not concerned as enquiry levels remain high.

Membrane roofing ↑ lead times increased by one week to nine overall. Suppliers report enquiry levels remain high and expect this lead time to be maintained until the end of the year.

Metal windows → are unchanged at 17 weeks, despite a slight drop in enquiries.

High-performance glass continues to be the determining factor here.

Drylining → companies continue to report a nine-week lead time, unchanged since the beginning of 2002. The only labour shortage reported is wet plasterers, although suppliers do not believe this will have an effect on lead times as this specialist trade represents a small proportion of workload in the current market.

A 10-week lead time is reported for demountable partitions ↑, an increase of two weeks. This is a blip caused by the summer shutdowns of several European factories. Although not all suppliers are affected by these closures, pressure on lead times has increased. Suppliers anticipate this longer period could be maintained next time as order books are healthy.

General joinery → lead times continue at 11 weeks, whereas specialist joinery ↓ has fallen back to 15 from 16, with recent enquiries failing to be transform themselves into projects. Suppliers note the increasing demand for products with the sustainable FSC badge, which will increase lead times, as there are fewer sources with this requirement compared with non certified timber. Certified raw materials are on the increase, but it will be several years before the levels are comparable to non-certified products.

The raised access floor → sector is quiet, but staying at six weeks, rather than reducing as expected. Suspended ceilings → are unchanged at 16 weeks after the last quarter's increase. Suppliers report that there are plenty of labour suppliers available.

Mechanical contractors → report no changes and the lead time has stayed at 18 weeks overall. Many feel that Wembley Stadium and Terminal 5 will create substantial labour shortages for London projects in 2004, but are not increasing lead times yet.

Following the two-week fall last quarter, ductwork → has stabilised at 12 weeks.

Sprinkler ↓ lead times have dropped for the second consecutive quarter to nine weeks, an additional one-week drop on last quarter's two-week reduction. All suppliers report factories have spare capacity and offices are completing projects without new work in the pipeline.

Electrical contractors → continue to report a 16-week lead time, despite fewer projects and new enquiries compared with six months ago. Several suppliers say they will be reducing labour levels in the next six months in proportion to the lower workload.

The average lead time for controls ↓ has fallen by two weeks to 12 overall, despite good enquiry levels in the last quarter. New contracts have not been forthcoming and this resulted in spare factory capacity for controls suppliers.

Going up

↑ Membrane roofing
↑ Demountable partitions

Staying level

↑ Rotary and precast piling
↑ Steelwork
↑ Curtain walling
↑ Metal windows
↑ Drylining
↑ General joinery
↑ Raised access floors
↑ Suspended ceilings
↑ Mechanical packages
↑ Ductwork

Going down

↓ Atrium roofing
↓ Specialist joinery
↓ Sprinklers
↓ Controls