World news

Clay Technology magazine
,
5 Aug 2015

Natalie Daniels looks at the latest developments heavy clay and construction industry from across the globe

Setting standards

A global coalition has formed to set out new measurement standards for the construction industry.  

The Chartered Institute of Building has joined together with more than 30 professional bodies to create the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) coalition, established by a number of non-profit organisations representing professionals in 140 countries. 

The initiative, first launched at the International Monetary Fund, in Washington D.C., devises a set of standards for the built environment to create simple classification and measurement definitions. This will ensure consistency and comparability of future projects.  

If successful, the attempt could mean that investors will have a more accurate estimate about the cost of housing or alternative constructions. 

According to Global Construction Perspectives, the industry is expected to grow to US$15 trillion by 2025. However, an inconsistency in definitions could lead to uncertainty, misunderstanding and risk. Eddie Tuttle, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager, said, ‘Given the socio-economic importance of the industry, it is imperative to work towards internationally recognised standards and minimise the prevalence of risk.’ 

More professional bodies, companies and government agencies have been encouraged to adopt this initiative.

Lagan Brick back in business

Following the market upturn in brick manufacturing across Ireland and the UK, Lagan Brick has announced it will restart its facility in Kingscourt, Ireland, which closed down in 2011 following the recession.  

The recovery in both the Irish and UK markets has created an opportunity for brick manufacturing to meet increasing demand outside of the UK. The company will commission one kiln in the first phase of its new operation – producing 12m bricks per year. Lagan hopes to have two kiln lines fully operational and produce a further 8m bricks annually, if forecasts are met.

With support from the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the re-opening will create 30 new jobs on site, 20 of which will be immediate with the remaining 10 positions to be decided when the second kiln is fully operational. 

Jody Guilfoyle, General Manager at Lagan Brick, said, ‘We are delighted to see an upturn in the economy after a very difficult period and to be in a position to recruit for the Lagan Brick facility.’ 

The factory will be Ireland’s only brick facility – the domestic market for 30 million bricks is serviced by imports. Lagan Brick hopes this extra capacity will create a good export opportunity.

Construction figures soar

Luck of the Irish, some might say, as new figures reveal Ireland’s construction industry has experienced its fastest growth since 2004. 

Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index was 65.7 in June 2015, compared with 63.3 in May 2015. The latest rate of growth was the second-fastest pace in the survey history.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector, based on five areas – new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

There was also a increase in new business and improved market confidence, according to Ulster Bank, ‘Exceptionally strong performances were recorded in housing and commercial activity here, and in each case growth was close to the record rates seen in the second half of last year,’ said Simon Barry, Chief Economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank. 

Barry explains, ‘Overall, following a notable slowdown in the early months of the year, there has been a marked re-acceleration in the pace of construction activity through the second quarter, offering considerable encouragement regarding the sector’s momentum as we enter the second half of the year.’ 

Research suggests that new orders have risen every month over the past two years, boosting confidence in the industry. Companies have also hired additional workers, and, as a result, businesses are expected to create more jobs to cope with the increasing workload.