The impact of rising material costs on facade builders is significant. In this respect, this type of company is not unique. On the positive side, facade builders do have tools to partially offset the extra costs. What effect do rising material costs, but also material shortages, have on facade builders and how do they deal with this?
Usually prices rise, sometimes they fall slightly afterwards. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, there seems to be no brake on price increases. "Actually everything is more expensive, including the aluminium we buy from suppliers. In addition, there are labour costs," says Ruud Baelemans of Van Hoesel Aluminium Kozijnen in Goirle.
"Glass is the most difficult material for us facade builders to properly estimate the cost of. This is not because of raw materials, but because of energy tariffs. This difficulty means we have a couple of options. Either we try to buy the material at an early stage or we will have to talk to clients about the price at a later stage in the process."
Anyway, Baelemans says facade builders will try to reach price agreements with suppliers and clients as much as possible. "Of course, there is a timeframe and conditions attached to that. In our case, we will do everything possible to deliver the project within time and budget. That is a challenge, but it also provides certainty in planning and costs. Everyone in the chain has to go the extra mile in doing so. Moreover, a positive effect of the current scarcity is that the proportion of prefab construction has increased significantly. This has advantages, such as generally higher quality, but also requires more preparation. For that, we use the 3D software HiCAD, which takes work off our hands."
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Baelemans points out that in times of scarcity or fluctuations in delivery times and prices, coordination in the chain is crucial. "Sometimes you will have to pre-finance something in the process. The advantage of this, however, is that you always have the certainty of having sufficient material." He also sees that the level of automation is increasing. "For example, for BIM deliveries. With HiCAD, we can automatically generate 2D and 3D drawings and copy files from LogiKal. This saves us time. In addition, the margin of error is decreasing, which is now much smaller than before. You build a facade virtually in advance and this preliminary work leads to a better-fitting end product."
The biggest gain - call it a cost saving - for Van Hoesel Aluminium Frame is the elimination of manual operations. "Our engineers thus have their hands free for making products smarter and better. The monk work for us as facade builders has been taken out, which makes it more interesting for engineers to conceive and design. There is more clarity in sequences and the implementation gets easier. Actually, all the benefits work their way down the chain."