Now here’s a rarity in the fast moving, everchanging world of construction economics: a quarter of relative calm in the supply chain

There has been very little movement in lead times over the summer, with only three sectors shortening, and two lengthening.

Piling ? remains at six weeks overall. Reinforcement prices continue to affect the piling sector. Precast piles continue to require a four-week lead-in.

Lead times for concrete works → have stabilised at five weeks. Reinforcement price rises have resulted in suppliers being unwilling to fix the reinforcement element of tender prices, and some clients appear to have accepted this in the short term.

The average lead time for structural steelwork → has been maintained at 11 weeks, although some suppliers have recently filled their order books, which may lead to an increase in lead times in the next period. Designers and CAD operators remain difficult to recruit. Fluctuating steel prices continue to affect suppliers although the larger contractors believe the problem can be managed.

As expected, curtain walling → was unchanged again at 19 weeks. Although steel shortages are causing difficulties, the steady workload in the sector has allowed this to be managed with minimal disruption.

Atrium roofing → specialists report no change overall with a lead time of 28 weeks. One company reports that the planned commencement of several contracts have been deferred. This may create space in order books and reduce lead times in the next period.

Lead times for membrane roofing ↓ reduced by one week to seven weeks as suppliers absorbed the mobilisation period quoted previously. Insulation products are still noted as a key lead-in item, given the increased performance criteria of the Part L regulations.

Following its recent increase, profiled roofing ↓ fell one week to 13. Suppliers have been able to absorb the impact of steel and insulation procurement, which was cited as the reason for the increase in the last period.

The lead time for metal windows → is unchanged at 16 weeks, after a small increase in the previous period. Suppliers are busy with new enquiries; however do not expect any change in the remainder of 2004.

Drylining → is unchanged at nine weeks – however, suppliers have noted that providing fixed prices for the metal components is becoming difficult. Despite this, suppliers do not expect lead times to change in the next period.

Lead times for demountable partitions → are unchanged at nine weeks after the reduction last time. Suppliers have noted that steel and aluminium suppliers are becoming restricted and this may affect lead times in the next period.

General joinery ↑ suppliers have reported lead times of 13 weeks, an increase of one week. All suppliers reported high workloads that resulted in a one-week mobilisation period in addition to the normal manufacturing periods.

The lead time for specialist joinery ↑ increased by one to 15 weeks. All suppliers report they are busier with new enquiries and projects compared with the previous six months and this has resulted in an increase to the manufacturing period.

Raised floors → are unchanged at six weeks, however issues with steel supply are now filtering through and steel coil is in short supply at present. Suppliers do not expect this to affect lead times in the short term.

Suspended ceilings → are unchanged at 16 weeks, although the number of new enquiries have reduced. Lead times have not yet been affected by the steel shortages.

Decorating → is unchanged at five weeks and internal stone finishes → are unchanged at 16.

Ductwork → also stayed put, at 12 weeks overall. Demand has been consistent in the last period, allowing the shortage of steel to be accommodated through forward ordering.

Lead times for sprinkler installations → remain at eight weeks. Suppliers have noted that the number of current projects have reduced, easing labour problems. Although the supply of steel piping continues to cause problems, the fewer projects in progress have lessened the impact on lead times.

The average lead time for electrical suppliers ↓ fell one week to 15 overall, reflecting current spare capacity. Suppliers report that this period could reduce further in the next period as new enquiries are also lower than in previous months.

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Going up

↑ General joinery
↑ Specialist joinery

Staying level

→ Piling
→ Concrete works
→ Structural steelwork
→ Curtain walling
→ Atrium roofing
→ Metal windows
→ Drylining
→ Demountable partitions
→ Raised flooring
→ Suspended ceilings
→ Decorating
→ Internal stone finishes
→ Ductwork
→ Sprinkler installations

Going down

↓ Profiled roofing
↓ Membrane roofing
↓ Electrical packages