Simon Marklew, Sales Director for New Build (Plumbing & Heating Division) at Drain Center, argues that housebuilders should take a holistic approach to drainage in the current housebuilding market.
With the housebuilding sector recently coming under scrutiny for the slow pace of construction and speculation that some larger listed housebuilders are overextending themselves, developers are increasingly facing pressure to meet both quantity and quality targets.
It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of homes. It’s been clear for some time that an aging population, levels of immigration and the number people living alone would have a knock on effect to our housing supply. It’s easy to point the finger at the housebuilders and some might argue that they’re overstretching themselves and not able to deliver on time, but it’s just as much the responsibility of the supply chain.
I often get asked ‘what’s the hottest trend in drainage?’ especially with regards to new-build homes. But while many of our suppliers are constantly trying to innovate their product offerings to create sustainable solutions for the homes of our future, the biggest innovation is happening in the supply network. Robust supplier relationships are ever more critical to the operation of a new build site. So how do we ensure that house-builders can maintain momentum and meet demand when it comes to drainage?
One of the most fundamental aspects is the importance of implementing robust stocking strategies to meet demand. Product availability of complete drainage systems is paramount. This includes soil/waste/rain-water, flexible plumbing systems, aluminium and cast iron drainage, ABS/PVC water systems and floor/roof/shower drains.
Across all of our customers there is always an expectation to stock a complete range of drainage products for immediate availability. Often this is for same day or next day delivery at the latest, and most of the time, site delivery slots are timed.
There’s been a plethora of reports in the media over recent years highlighting the extortionate cost of site theft. One of the stand-out stats was a couple of years ago when insurer, Allianz Cornhill put a price tag of £800 million across the construction industry.
Whether it’s the gradual cost of small items from opportunists passing the site or planned theft of larger, more valuable items – it’s an expensive risk to take and an unnecessary one if you have the right supply chain partner.
Not only this, a bold target was set by the government at the start of the year to achieve 200,000 completed homes in 2016. While this creates a surge in demand for construction products, it also puts pressure on the skills available. Unfortunately there is a disproportionate number of people joining the industry as apprentices compared to those leaving for retirement of another sector. The latest stats say as 15,000 apprentices enter the industry, more than 60,000 are leaving at the same time. As a result housebuilders simply cannot afford to have the workers that are still active sitting around on site waiting for their products to be delivered.
Consequently construction companies are relying more and more on their suppliers to implement logistical strategies to ensure that products are left on site for as little time as possible until they are used. Our customers often want to hold a minimum value of product on site due to potential theft, and also due to lack of site storage space when the site is operationally tight. Just-in-time and on-time-in-full deliveries have become a commonplace demand.
The impact on reputation
As we’ve seen, the industry continues to fall under the political spotlight and generate general concern throughout the mainstream media and general public around, a) new homeowners getting on to the ladder and, b) providing enough homes for our children’s children.
We recognise this and understand that providing the industry with a holistic approach to drainage products is a crucial ingredient in the delivery of a new build home to a buyer. One disgruntled customer can cause significant damage to a housebuilder’s brand and if a whole site is behind schedule, that number instantly snowballs.
This is why the importance of readily available product is key to growing and maintaining customer confidence in the housebuilding market. The accuracy of picking customer orders and our commitment to delivering orders on-time and in-full does a lot to enhance credibility and reputation.
Simon Marklew is Sales Director for New Build (Plumbing & Heating Division) at Drain Center.