UK construction companies no longer have a pool of young budding construction workers to draw from – times are changing and our nation’s productivity levels are dwindling, having fallen greatly over the past decade.
Although foreign labour has been helping is to claw back some productivity, the threat of Brexit looming means that some of the construction industry’s hardest workers may be forced to leave and go back to their homes in Europe.
However, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and a shortage of skills across various industries so what do we do? Outsourcing is one solution, of course, although we could also try managing our personnel more effectively and striving to provide them with solutions which increase their productivity levels organically.
When it comes to ground workers in the construction industry, one quick solution is purchasing steel reinforcements which are already welded into sections. This makes site installations much quicker and easier, leading to decreased downtime and increased productivity. These “prefabricated steel reinforcements” help to keep costs low and productivity high, making them very popular in the industry as of late.
These prefab reinforcements are often used for building houses here in the UK, for example. For instance, most house builds require simple ground beams made from steel cages of straight rebar and “links”. These ground beams can be pre-fabricated beforehand, meaning that ready-to-go ground beams can be delivered straight to housing developments, ready to be installed straight away.
Is pre-fab better than bent and loose cut steel?
Although bent steel and loose cut steel could save you some money initially, their long-term effects are generally not worth the hassle. For instance, sourcing bent and loose cut steel from a reliable supplier can be very time-consuming and exhausting, wasting lots of time which would be better spent getting to work on the ground. Buying bent and loose cut steel often leads to:
- -Wasting time off-loading it from wagons (it’s much quicker to off-load preformed cages)
- -Wasting on-site space with various loose bars taking up more room than neat and tidy cages
- -Wasting skilled man-hours searching for steel and tying cages together. This time could be better spent by completing the project itself
By the time you have bought, managed, and arranged loose cut and bent steel, you could have ordered and installed almost 10 prefabricated steel cages. Although the initial cost savings may be tempting, you will lose a significant amount of time by going for loose cut and bent steel. As we all know – time is money!
Nonetheless, if you are acutely aware of your team’s operations and processes, time-tracking how long it takes them to complete various tasks with their varied skillsets, then there may be scenarios in which it is better for you to purchase bent and loose cut steel. Generally speaking though, experienced site managers know that prefab steel is the best way to increase productivity and positively affect their bottom line.
If you want a productive and efficient worksite, you need strong management and production workflows that are free from any bottlenecks and time sinks. Unless your site manager has a wealth of experience or a specific plan in mind for bent and loose cut steel, purchasing it generally leads to bottlenecks which delay projects and push back expected completion dates for the groundwork.
How much does prefabricated steel reinforcement cost?
Prefabricated steel reinforcements are inevitably more expensive than bent and loose cut steel. This is because they are more convenient and save site managers time, at least most of the time anyway. Depending on the size and scope of the project at hand, it could be cheaper to manage loose steel for reinforcement purposes in small domestic projects where only a small amount of steel is required and the workers are highly experienced. Also, in these smaller domestic projects, there may be less skill required to tie the beams, which could make the task manageable for close-knit teams. Nonetheless, for the majority of projects which require standard ground beams, pile caps, or pile cages, using loose steel is generally not going to work out cheaper in the long run.
Companies are able to offer affordable rates for prefab steel because you can easily tie (or weld) cages in suitable premises with mechanical assistance (i.e. A-frames, winches, cranes etc.) and proper access. Another advantage is the fact that engineers working with prefab steel are not stuck welding or tying steel on muddy or rainy sites in less-than-ideal conditions. On the contrary, prefab cages are produced in ideal factory environments, making them stronger, less prone to mistakes, more accurately produced, and cheap.
What are the downsides of Prefab Steel Reinforcement?
Prefab steel can sometimes see some long lead times from its manufacturers. These long lead times create project delays, in turn leading to higher project costs. If you are going to be stuck with a long lead time, it may end up being more economical to purchase bent/loose steel and tie it yourself on-site. Of course, the specific budget, time, and skills of the team need to be taken into consideration by the site manager before making this decision. Will a long lead time still be worth it when compared to all the man hours that tying the steel manually will take?
Heaton Products is offering prefab steel solutions for contractors and site managers all over the UK, selling prefabricated steel reinforcement products which will boost your productivity levels exponentially. Supplying prefab steel reinforcements quickly is our speciality – we know that time is of the essence when you’re waiting for prefab steel! We are able to deliver products according to your drawings and schedules, stocking a wide range of stock cages that will suit the majority of ground beam project requirements. If you would like to find out more and discuss your project with us, give us a call today on 01283 712 617.