There’s no doubt that all facets of the Building Products sector faced a unique set of challenges in 2020, largely due to the impact of the pandemic. What are the prospects like this year? We take a look at the top trends facing the building products industry in 2021.
With so many projects delayed, there’s a strong chance of a bounce-back in 2021. Research from the Construction Products Association suggests that construction output will rise by 25% and infrastructure work by 40% in 2021. With that resurgence, there will be an increased demand for building products and as a consequence, we believe a rise in mid-high level job opportunities. The sector employs over 373,000 people across 24,000 companies and has an annual turnover of more than £61 billion.
2. Remote technology
As well as remote working tools for project management and virtual meetings, there’s lots of newer technology being used in the industry to help projects keep on track whilst keeping staff safe.
The use of drones can assess building projects from above, mapping large areas and providing aerial heat maps and thermal images. Software provides real-time data for swift decision-making and improved efficiency.
- Safety tech
You’ll see the use of wearable innovations increasing in 2021. Particularly useful to mitigate common safety issues, examples such as wifi connected workwear and boots can offer instant alerts and monitor accidents and injury.
3. Design Technology
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been around for some years but is now reaching common practice. Largely replacing the use of CAD technology, models of the building are created in a 3D virtual space that achieve better project co-ordination, collaboration, and efficient workflows.
Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) has similar principles to BIM and is invaluable for identifying potential issues before construction. It can be used to discover gaps in schedule, materials, and layout for real-time analysis that can increase project efficiency and cost analysis.
4. Living Materials
A really exciting development for the Building Products industry is the use of living materials. Cultivated from bacteria and fungi, they’re light, strong and malleable. This innovative technology is being explored across the sector and is certain to be developed further in the years to come.
- Self-mending concrete
Bacteria is grown into cracks and fissures in concrete to repair and waterproof by binding into a new structured material. It’s also being developed as a stand-alone material for use in other applications.
- Mycelium Composites
Using the natural composition of fungi, Mycelium has been cultivated into all sorts of materials, including packaging, and is set to grow in functional use for building products.
We’re particularly interested to see how the use of biological compounds can be used in flooring and insulation in the coming years.
5. Sustainable Products
One area that’s been on the radar for the last few years and will only grow in importance in 2021 is the use of sustainable products. Lowering carbon footprint and using responsibly sourced materials is imperative to the long-term success of the industry. Timber products have been at the forefront and the use of geo-textiles is also growing. Climate-friendly processes and materials to lessen the environmental impact of our modern-day lives is one trend not set to go away.
6. Supply Chain Diversification
As last year showed, disruptions to supply chains causes project delays and can bring your business to its knees. Re-evaluating business relationships and developing new alliances will be front-of-mind this year. Contracts may need to be revised to include clauses to cover unforeseen cost increases and delays. There’s a great opportunity for suppliers to move into new areas when they can be seen as being adaptable to change and responsive to client needs.
- Smart contracts
As part of this diversification, smart contracts will be more prevalent. Shared systems in a blockchain will allow organisations to buy, track, and pay for services and improve project tracking, helping to automate a supply chain.
7. Modular construction
Pre-fabrication has been growing in recent years and we’ve seen across the building products sector just how effective it can be in reducing leadtimes and keeping projects on track. The majority of work can take place in a controlled factory or manufacturing environment lowering risks of danger to health and delays.
8. 3D printing
Customisable, short print runs are made so much easier with the use of 3D printing technology and it’s now being used across the sector for smaller components. It’s can also used on a larger scale, for example, laying concrete in a pre-programmed design. While it’s not looking likely to replace injection moulding for mass production, it’s a more affordable solution for bespoke needs.
Keeping abreast of industry changes
At Beaumont Wood we work with leading organisations in the building products sector covering a vast array of manufactured and raw materials. These could be products used in lighting, plumbing, wood products, ironmongery, insulation, windows & doors, and glass to name just a few.
One of our top tips when looking for your next role is to take a look at what industry changes are being embraced by the company you’re applying with. It can be a good indicator as to their forward planning, adaptability and competitiveness in their field. Having this background knowledge will also help you to present yourself well during the interview process.
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