Responding to the Brick Development Association’s (BDA) statementthat despite the sudden upswing in brick and construction manufacturing demand, that responsible suppliers will be able to cope, Wienerberger, the leading provider of wall, roof and landscaping innovations, has set out exactly how it will utilise its UK and global production network to ensure customer orders are fully met.
Keith Barker, Commercial Director at Wienerberger, commented:
We fully support the BDA’s position – there is absolutely no reason why large manufacturers such as ourselves shouldn’t be able to adapt to the inevitable challenges that rapid market growth bring. We are certainly not saying that there won’t be a certain amount of pressure on the supply chain; simply that it is something manufacturers should be equipped to deal with.
At Wienerberger, we welcome any Government initiative that will have a positive impact on the industry. Our view is that energising residential construction is a really strong driver of economic growth; it creates employment and delivers much needed housing stock. The initial impacts of Help to Buy appear to have delivered just that, and we hope that a longer term consequence will be to make housing more affordable to the UK population. However, in the short term, demand in construction manufacturing has accelerated.
While it is true that the industry slump has slowed production over the last few years, it is important to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to market changes. This is where the strength of the Wienerberger global network comes into play. With (10) brick factory sites in strategic regional areas of the UK, we are able to supply local products for local markets. The nature of the wider Wienerberger product offering as the biggest brick manufacturer in the world means that we are able to use this critical mass to deal with short-term regional peaks in demand for bricks whilst maintaining efficient and sustainable production.
Introducing products to the UK from Wienerberger factories in Northern Europe is also good in sustainability terms. These products come from efficient factories running at peak performance with energy efficiencies similar to, or better than, our UK factories. Even though the bricks have to travel further, independent studies have shown that the typical contribution of transport to the delivered carbon footprint of a clay brick is only around 4%. And in many cases the distance travelled to site on road can be less for a brick produced in Belgium or Holland compared to a brick moved between regions within the UK. This is particularly the case when the nearest UK port to the construction site can be used for bricks that have crossed the Channel.
The other advantage of using products from partner Wienerberger factories is that the products are manufactured to the same demanding manufacturing standards as products from our UK factories. All manufacturing follows the corporate Wienerberger sustainability principles and products from northern Europe are leaders in the field of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) according to EN 15804 – which is still embryonic in the UK.
Additionally all the imported products have been CE marked to the European product standard EN 771-1 for a number of years – again something which is relatively new in the UK
As demand increases, the need for accurate forecasting becomes more important to the supply chain. The challenge moving forward is to work closely with our customers to accurately forecast market demand. We hope that what we are currently experiencing is simply the industry returning to growth and prosperity rather than a peak in demand, but either way we will be able to provide accordingly. We take our responsibilities to both the customer and our industry very seriously, but this is certainly not a crisis – just an opportunity to support the welcome growth within the new housing market and help improve the fortunes of the UK construction sector.