Managing a worldwide shortage of materials, by Antony Hunt, MD, Smart-Space Instant Buildings.

Antony Hunt, MD, Smart-Space.

“It seems that where business is concerned, it’s a case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ right now. Just as we all look forward to the formal ending of lockdown in June we are now facing problems of a completely different nature… a worldwide shortage of raw components. From aluminium to steel to plastics and wood, there’s hardly a commodity that is unaffected and, consequently, not subject to either lack of availability, long delays or huge price hikes.

You can cite a whole number of reasons as to why this might be but, regardless of root causes, we’re seeing unprecedented price increases – the likes of which I’ve never experienced in thirty three years in business. A good example is aluminium. In just a seven day period in early May, the raw material price went from £1.24 per kilo to £1.32 per kilo.

As part of a chain of busy suppliers and clients, we are seeing the effects everywhere but especially our clients who are experiencing shortages of raw materials, delays on deliveries and gun to the head pricing. We’ve taken orders for and are quoting on additional instant buildings right now – purely to house extra supplies that are being (rather worryingly but understandably) stockpiled.

This global issue is one of the reasons that we at Smart-Space aim to have as much control as possible over our own supply chain. Of course we’re not untouchable but we do hold huge amounts of stock ourselves as well as sourcing everything we can locally. Many of our long-standing, loyal suppliers are based right here in the Midlands which is a massive business advantage.

The only exception to our staunch ‘Buy British’ rule is a particular profile we tend to buy in blanks from Europe but these are now in short supply with prices rising daily. However with our own blanks and components we are comfortably able to meet demand for our in-house manufacturing at least until early autumn this year.

We continue to work through and face new challenges head on but sometimes it does pay to have a business built on some really sound principles such as employing a direct workforce and buying British wherever possible. It’s paying off for us as we can continue to meet demand for space – which is at an all-time high right now – and not let anyone down.

If ever there was a time to buy British, this surely has to be it because, from what I can see, it’s the only way a company can look forward with any certainty to the building actually being delivered at all – and better still, on time.

There seems no immediate end to this crisis which I believe will get far worse before it gets better. However we are monitoring the situation with a keen eye and the time and space that will allow us to be responsive to change and keep our customers happy.”


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