CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY CHAIN RISKS AND TIPS

Posted by Skyline family of companies on May 21, 2020 1:59:21 PM

ACCEND Blog

 

The construction industry is ripe with conflicting information about supply chain interruptions and delays.  Some sources indicate that the supply chain outlook is positive and nearly back on track, while others predict significant delays for the remainder of the year.  Our construction teams continue to monitor manufacturers and suppliers to understand the true impact on construction schedules. The truth is, supply chains are simply changing.  There is unpredictability created by a number of factors including regional COVID hotspots, outbreaks in manufacturing facilities, varying regional SIP regulations, health/safety concerns and workers’ hesitation to return to factories. 

The biggest factor however, creating unpredictable supply chain delays, is actually not manufacturing or production, but shipping and freight.

 

THE BIGGEST PINCH POINT: SHIPPING 

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The entire shipping system is impacted by the surge in activity since the onset of COVID.  From Amazon to Shutterfly and everything in between, shipping delays are happening in every industry and construction is no exception.  The main reason for this interruption, as it relates to construction materials, is the reduction in air freight. Historically, up to 50% of traditional air freight comes from cargo space within passenger airline holds.  The number of commercial flights has reduced significantly, therefore creating less capacity and slowing delivery times.

As a result, manufacturers are reluctant to offer “quick ship” options (fee-based services) in order to hit tight procurement timelines.  Manufacturers’ quick ships were critical for buying lighting and mechanical equipment within the fast-paced tenant improvement market and it is unclear when their prevalence will return.

 

KEY TO NAVIGATING SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES: A REALISTIC SCHEDULE

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Extra time in both preconstruction and construction is necessary right now, in order to efficiently procure materials, sequence trades and meet project schedules.  General contractors need to be mindful of this and add up to an additional 6 weeks of preconstruction to the schedule to allow for a more robustly planned procurement process. Every item being sourced for the project, from high end finishes, mechanical equipment and lighting, down to fasteners, bolts and screws, must be mapped out in detail to understand the source of origin, manufacturing lead times and shipping timeframes.  

Currently supply chain and manufacturing disruptions are causing maximum variances of 8-10 weeks vs. pre-pandemic timelines. Meaning, a custom light fixture with an original lead time of 8 weeks is now likely to arrive in 16 weeks.  Other similar products may be completely unaffected.  By allowing additional time in preconstruction, construction teams can account for the expected shipping delays and sequence the schedule accordingly.

On-site construction schedules will benefit from an additional 1-2 weeks of schedule contingency to account for supply chain delays, lost productivity due to social distancing guidelines, an infection on the jobsite or any other COVID related circumstances.  It’s important to plan for unpredictable delays that will surface throughout construction.

 

SPECIFIC PRODUCTS & REGIONAL DELAYS TO WATCH

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While supply chain and shipping information differs from product to product and week to week, here is a consolidated list of some of the major lead times and hot bed areas to monitor closely as of May 21, 2020.

  • Electrical supplies and lighting: There is looming potential for a shortage of 1900 junction boxes that go behind every electrical device. Additionally, electrical panels, which took less than a week to get prior to COVID-19, are now pushing 6-8 weeks. Custom fabricated light fixtures are experiencing double the normal lead times from 8-12 weeks up to 16-20 weeks.

  • Architectural Products out of Italy: With the large infection rate in Italy plus shipping delays and a backup of orders, expect to see significant lead times from imported tile and stone from Italy and other parts of Europe.

  • Items Made or Assembled in Mexico: Mexico is home to many manufacturers in the automotive and electromotive industries. HVAC vendors like Trane and Carrier assemble many of their products there. In recent weeks they have seen a spike in infections, resulting in temporary factory closings and production loss. Quick ships, as mentioned above, are no longer available as a standard option.

  • Items Made or Assembled in China: By and large the supply chain from China is still moving but shipping delays are to be expected.

  • Construction influx from USA: Construction restrictions have been lifted in many major metropolitan cities within the US including the Bay Area, New York and Boston.  With these major markets coming back online, demand for materials to re-boot projects will surge, putting significant strain on manufacturing output and shipping capacity. 

The most impactful thing a general contractor can do to plan a construction project is over-communicate with vendors and suppliers; create a procurement log and track changes daily and keep owners abreast of all changes and stay nimble.  Everyone is juggling the inconsistencies in supply chain and shipping delays as the industry navigates through this unpredictable time.

 

Reach out to us for help here:

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Topics: COVID-19

13 Ways to Prepare your Office Space for Re-Entry during COVID-19?

Posted by The Skyline Family of Companies on May 6, 2020 8:03:41 AM

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As everyone anxiously waits for the Shelter in Place orders to be lifted, companies are working to understand the challenges associated with returning to work while maintaining social distancing. Questions of how to reconfigure office space will arise in order to provide a safe and healthy environment.

There are numerous options to consider ranging from simply removing conference room chairs all the way to installing motion-activated doors. Companies with high-density workstations and open bench seating may need reconfigure their furniture. Employers may consider staggering work hours, or alternating days of the week in order to reduce workforce density. Some companies may consider creating a designated path of travel within their office to avoid people “bumping into each other” in the halls.

Below are many potential solutions to help reconfigure office space needs for re-opening.

 

OFFICE DESIGN & FURNITURE

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  • WORKSTATION RECONFIGURATION & SEPARATION
    De-densify open benching systems, and reconfigure existing workstations to provide adequate distance. This seemingly simple task comes with power, data, carpet patching and other minor modifications.

  • WORKSPACE SEPARATORS
    Add physical vertical separators between workstations to create a barrier or shield from germs. Options exist that prevent damage to existing workstations and there are a wide variety of shapes, sizes and designs including acrylic, glass and fabric panels. As simple as it may seem, there are many factors that need be accounted for in this solution – line of site, sit stand functionality, durability, maintenance, cost, architectural details, and lead-times.

  • VIRTUAL COLLABORATION SPACES
    Convert in-person huddle rooms to virtual collaboration areas so in-office employees can collaborate with their WFH counterparts. This may require additional video conferencing / AV capabilities and could warrant changes to window treatments, acoustic installations, data, electrical, drywall, furniture, etc.

  • CONFERENCE ROOM DE-DENSIFICATION
    Reduce conference room density by limiting the occupancy count in each room. Furniture reconfiguration is a simple way to do this. For large meeting-based companies this may lead to the need for additional conference rooms.



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  • DIRECTIONAL SIGNAGE
    Convert narrow or high traffic spaces such as corridors to become one directional, or widen and adjust existing walkways to maintain social distancing requirements. Consider an office protocol that allows employees to move through the space in a predetermined, well-marked traffic plan to help maintain social distance. This can accomplished creatively through wayfinding signage, carpet tile designs, wall graphics, window film, lighting and more.

  • ENTRY POINTS & WAITING AREAS
    Review the entry and exit points within your space and understand the flow of traffic for both employees and visitors. Increase the distance between visitors upon entry by marking the floor with decals and reduce furniture in waiting areas. Consider a possible alternate exit for employees to ensure distancing.

  • INCREASED STORAGE
    Prepare for an increase in office and kitchen related storage. If offices move towards shifts with multiple people sharing desks, additional storage or locker systems may be necessary to store personal items. As communal snacks and shared food items diminish from kitchens, expect a rise in individually packaged items and more people bringing their own meals.

  • HVAC SYSTEMS
    Evaluate air quality standards within office buildings. Depending on the age of a building and the density of space, it may make sense to bring in additional outside air or to install filtration devices. Higher tech solutions exist for Ultra Violet disinfection and the creation of negatively pressurized spaces. For companies adopting multiple shifts or staggered work schedules, an important consideration will be the cost to run the building’s cooling system after hours vs supplemental air systems installed directly in a tenant’s space.  Check your lease agreement and have a contractor do an analysis to understand what makes the most sense.

HYGIENE AND SAFETY:

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  • ADDED SANITATION AREAS
    Add hand washing and disinfecting stations throughout the workspace in addition to existing restrooms and kitchen areas. This may include replacing large communal gathering areas like cafes with a higher quantity of smaller break areas and pantries.

  • TOUCHLESS DEVICES
    Automate high touch objects and areas like soap dispensers, doors, kitchen appliances, coffee machines, paper towel and soap dispensers, trash cans and other office devices to prevent the spread of germs.

  • ROUTINE DISINFECTION
    Update janitorial cleaning standards and frequency of routine office cleaning. This routine cleaning can be supplemented with periodic fogger-applied spray disinfectants.

  • BIOMETRIC ACCESS DEVICES
    Evaluate security requirements including the potential for touchless fingerprint or facial recognition readers. Advanced options exist to determine body temperature and presence of a mask. 

Ensuring that your employees feel safe and excited to come back into the office should be of top priority. We are here to provide your team with the reassurance that their work environment is well thought through and ready for their safe return.

We will assist in evaluating your feasibility, budget and schedule needs, and then manage the necessary changes in an organized and safe manner.  Please reach out with questions. We are here to help.

Reach out to us for help here:

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Topics: Construction Trends, COVID-19, Construction Predictions

PREDICTIONS ON HOW COVID-19 will change construction

Posted by The Skyline Family of Companies on Apr 8, 2020 9:06:51 PM

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The COVID-19 outbreak has brought the construction industry to a screeching halt in regions like CA, WA and NY, while creating significant supply chain and material lags in other cities.  Regardless of location, the entire construction industry has been forced to pause, pivot and jump into crisis mode to assess the current situation and plan for the future.

Developing contingency plans, finding alternate delivery solutions, assessing costs and keeping an eye on what’s going on with the supply chain has become our new normal. What we’re trying to do is answer the lingering question: what does the future of commercial office design and construction look like once COVID-19 is behind us?

We gathered a taskforce of the industry’s top minds to share their insight into the changing landscape of the construction industry.  Together, we grappled with the following questions and scenarios for what our industry should anticipate post COVID-19:

  • How will office design trends change?
  • Will space needs diminish if the WFH model proves successful?
  • Will any trades or service lines see an increase in demand?
  • What will the new standard of jobsites and field work become?

While no one has a crystal ball, and we are all navigating uncharted waters together, the outcome of our discussion led to many sound predictions on the changing nature of the industry.

Below we are sharing our top 6 predictions for the future office space needs, design trends and construction post COVID-19.

1.  Healthy office spaces 
The heightened awareness of hygiene and the value of overall cleanliness will cause an uptick in demand for upgraded sanitization / disinfectant systems. We anticipate a spike in demand for touchless devices such as faucets, toilets, waste receptacles, sanitizer / soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and automated doors. There may also be increased opportunity on the horizon for janitorial positions and potentially the creation of new roles and internal programs to fill health / cleanliness initiatives.

2.  Workstation distancing
For most, cubicle life is a distant memory as many companies have moved towards high density benching and open concept floorplans. Now that COVID-19 has imposed the value of social distancing to limit the spread of the virus, we foresee the return of cubicles, private offices and increased separation of workstations from the standard 4’ to at least 6’ apart. Open area collaboration spaces will be redesigned and reconfigured, which poses the challenge of keeping collaboration opportunities alive with closed floorplans.


3.  A tenant’s market
The realistic outlook of commercial real estate is decreased activity, leading to lower rents and higher concessions from landlords to tenants.  Concessions will likely be seen in the form of free rent, or potentially larger tenant improvement allowances.  Time will tell, but as tenant activity in the market continues to dwindle, this could be an opportunity for those looking to find the space they desire at a lower a price point with better terms.  Alternatively, this could also be the time for tenants to explore short-term lease extensions with their current landlords to provide the financial flexibility they will need as we begin to re-enter the workplace.


4.  Healthy jobsites
There are several components to ensure safe and clean jobsites to decrease exposure to illness and disease. Straightforward changes include increased or enhanced sanitization systems such as temporary hand washing stations, increased labor to clean jobsites, additional required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and heightened standards of PPE disposal. Practices that will also be enforced include coordination with all contractors on jobsites to modify site activity in order to practice safe social distancing such as staggering work shifts and freight elevator use. Additional measures may be taken to protect the health of jobsite personnel which could be as simple as a temperature scan before entering the jobsite or thorough as a doctor-validated bill of health.

5.  Delays
Manufacturers are going to have a huge backlog to fulfill due to closures and delayed demand once work is back in full swing. Pay special attention to the supply chain on your project. The freight industry will similarly be impacted with extra pressure to transport materials. Overseas shipping trends may shift from traditional freight to airline cargo wherever feasible. To avoid delays, design trends will also shift to source locally manufactured products/fini shes in lieu of imported materials and equipment.

6. The WFH Model
As businesses and the workforce adapts to the flexibility of the WFH model, it is likely traditional workspaces will be re-evaluated. Some companies may forego traditional office space all together and use co-working solutions for collaboration as needed. Other companies will move towards more shared desks or “hoteling” workstations in their space and may be faced with the challenge of designing creative space that entices employees to come to the office to create opportunities for collaboration.

 

Our network floods with new information on a daily basis, which means predictions can shift quickly based on current market conditions. Our goal is to provide you with the information as we receive it to help you navigate through the changing dynamics of the design and construction industry. We’re in this together. And when this crisis ends, we can get back to building better and safer together.

 

Topics: Construction Trends, COVID-19, Construction Predictions