British Steel Statement

It has been announced that British Steel has gone into compulsory liquidation. The company continues with business as usual while the Official Receiver looks for a buyer. The appointment of the Official Receiver creates a period of stability while a new buyer is sought for the trading business. BCSA’s first thoughts are with British Steel employees. We are hopeful that this key part of the UK’s proud industrial heritage can be saved.

The UK structural steelwork sector is in good shape. Demand for structural steelwork is steady, and UK steelwork contractors have the capacity and capability to deliver the future pipeline of work.

The UK has an efficient and mature stockholder and distribution sector, and steel stocks in the UK remain healthy as stockholders had already been preparing for a no deal Brexit.

The Official Receiver has said that British Steel will continue to trade as normal; taking orders, producing steel and despatching while they look for a buyer. Notwithstanding the current challenges, British Steel continues to be a key supplier to the UK construction sector and the company could return to profitability and have a long-term future should a buyer be found, or necessary funding be secured.

The major European mills supplying steel to the UK, along with other high quality international mills, have the capacity to fully service the needs of the UK structural steelwork market, if required. There are also other UK steel mills producing a variety of other products for the UK construction sector.

The structural steelwork sector and its supply chain will continue to offer the construction sector the high level of service they expect.

Presidents Column (May 2019)

This magazine provides engineers, architects, main contractors and clients with an enormous amount of information, technical guidance, news and case studies every month. It also showcases structural steelwork and shows the industry the range of benefits that designing and building in steel can bring.

Steel’s high strength-to weight ratio delivers the most efficient designs and allows for the design of longer, flexible internal column-free spaces. It also
delivers spectacular buildings and structures with ease. Steel buildings are highly adaptable and flexible, offering future-proofed design solutions.

Steel is the most cost-effective framing material for buildings and structures of all types. Cost savings in steel buildings start at the foundations, where the loads imposed by a steel frame are up to 50% less than those of a concrete alternative. AECOM’s most recent cost study shows that on a typical city centre office building, the frame and upper floors cost of the cellular steel composite beam and slab option was 7% lower than the concrete alternative.

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Presidents Column (April 2019)

Most of us already know that the government wants construction and infrastructure projects to incorporate greater levels of offsite manufacturing. But more recently, government has said that it also wants to take a more standardised approach to design, including componentisation. They refer to this as a platforms approach.

With the majority of the value add for structural steel already occurring offsite – in some cases up to 90% the structural steelwork sector is well placed to be an early adopter of these new approaches.

Key to the success of this approach will be the ability to lock down the complete design. The current construction delivery model does not allow the design to be fixed and drives late changes to design driven by individual sub-contractors as they are engaged. This lack of design certainty is the biggest issue facing steelwork contractors today and one of the largest drivers of cost. BCSA believes late and incomplete design, design errors, and ongoing design changes could currently add up to 15% – 20% in cost to a construction project. Continue Reading →

President’s Column (March 2019)

With the 2019 Spring Statement due on 13 March, and the UK currently scheduled to exit the EU at the end of March, all eyes are on the UK economy this month. But what does this actually mean for the structural steelwork sector?
Every year, Construction Markets undertakes what is believed to be the largest survey of its kind, surveying specifiers and analysing the responses against government data in order to calculate the current and future consumption of structural steelwork in the UK, and the market share of the key framing materials.

The most recent data has just been released, including forecasts to 2021, and as most of us would have expected, in 2018 the consumption of structural steelwork in the UK remained fairly flat at 895,000 tonnes. Overall, Construction Markets is forecasting more of the same in 2019 (up 0.5%) and then stronger growth overall in 2020 (up 2.3%) before a levelling off again in 2021. By 2021, the UK’s consumption of structural steelwork should have reached 920,000 tonnes.
But the interesting reading really comes when we delve into the details of some key sectors.

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President’s Column (February 2019)

Main contractors often push the limits when drafting construction contracts for subcontract work, even though we have perfectly good standard form contracts in the form of NEC and JCT. I have seen pages and pages of ‘z clauses’ inserted into NEC contracts, and so many changes to JCT contracts that they should really be renamed. Standard clauses designed to protect subcontractors, though, simply vanish into thin air.

On the other side of the table, for some subcontractors, navigating the contractual landscape can be time-consuming and difficult, especially when ‘standard’ no longer really means ‘standard’ and those all-important standard clauses designed to provide protection and a level playing field are just deleted time and time again. Continue Reading →