Materials Shortages and EPDM – How Flex-R is Working with You

Jun 29, 2021 Off Comments in News by
Materials Shortages and EPDM – How Flex-R is Working with You

In this article we talk about the current materials shortages, how these are impacting across the construction industry. We explain what Flex-R is doing to support our customers and how you can help us ensure a consistent supply.

Why are there supply shortages?

In the last year the unprecedented conditions have created a perfect storm of reduced supply and increased demand which is driving down availability and forcing up prices.

Supply issues

We’re all aware of the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce, but this was just the beginning of the pressure on supply of raw materials.

Transport issues also played a part, with a shortage of containers due to unprecedented demand, the well-reported Suez Canal blockage in March, congestion at UK ports and a shortage of drivers.

In addition, there have been unconnected issues at some sites that produce raw materials to the membranes sector. This included the Texas Freeze in February which led to multiple manufacturing plants having to shut down due to loss of power and a major chemical plant fire in Rockton, Illinois.

Demand issues

At the same time, as people have been spending more time at home and have more disposable income, many have decided to carry out home improvements. This has led to a huge bounce back in demand in the domestic RMI market. The UK housebuilding market is also seeing substantial growth.

As a result of these combined pressures, the Construction Leadership Council announced major shortages in five key products: Steel, Timber, Cement, Aggregates and Plastics. You’ll no doubt be aware of the price increases in timber products such as OSB. Membrane prices are also going up. All EPDM products have been affected by these pressures, and PVC and GRP price increases are even greater in some cases.

Where manufacturers have attempted to ramp up production, they find it very difficult to do in the short term. This is particularly the case when the materials supply chain is quite long with each link in the chain reliant on availability from the next.

How is Flex-R Responding?

The sudden increases in raw materials prices have affected our products too. Like all other suppliers we have reluctantly had to pass on these additional costs to customers, but at Flex-R we have decided to take steps to protect our existing loyal customers by working to provide a consistent level of supply.

In line with the recommendations of the CLC, Flex-R have introduced an allocation system for existing customers and avoided taking on new customers. This will enable us to work with you to ensure a consistent level of supply which whilst it might not be at the level you would like, is nevertheless reliable, enabling you to plan ahead and keep your customers informed.

How to Help Us Help You

We are keen to help our customers navigate this difficult period in partnership with us. Here are some points of advice which will help us ensure we can continue to supply you well and you can continue to deliver high quality projects.

Talk to your Clients

Talk to your clients about the current market pressures and what the impact may be on their projects. Advise them to plan for the shortages by pushing jobs back where they can, to wait for more price and supply stability.

Plan ahead rather than simply be reactive to events. If you are planning your works well ahead you can let us know what your needs are rather than ask for short order delivery for materials that may not be available.

Stick with Products You Know

Any gap in the market will be filled by other products seeking to capitalise on increased demand but beware of purchasing cheaper imports that you are not familiar with. Remember that the material you know also has details you know and expertise you can trust.

The products you use regularly also have fire certificates and BBA certification that untested products may not have for months into the future, if at all. New products may not have been real-world tested, further increasing risk for your client.

Check the true value of any warrantees you are offered and be aware that mixing products with untested accessories may turn a short-term gain into a very expensive compromise further down the line.

Talk to your Manufacturers

We’d like to encourage you to talk to us about your projects.

By working to allocation, we can give you greater certainty and help you plan your work, rather than take your order without being able to confirm we can supply.

Let us know about your planned start dates, any delays and what your needs are. This will help us to be the partner you want.

We’ll Continue to Support You

We’d like to thank our loyal customers for working with us through the current pressures. Working together we can help deliver a consistent supply of materials so that you can deliver the best projects.