Ask an expert: how do I keep projects on track amidst steel shortages & price hikes?

Ask an expert: how do I keep projects on track amidst steel shortages & price hikes?

26 May 2022

Last month the NZ Herald reported that National Trade Stores had released more price rises for steel mesh and bar, with reinforcing steel set to be up an additional 8% as we head towards July.

This is on top of significant increases over the past 18 months, with mesh and rebar costing between $800 and $1,000 USD per tonne (up 181% from October 2019 for slab and 163% for rebar).

Across both New Zealand and Australia, steel is in high demand due to increased Government infrastructure projects and the post-Covid building boom. Demand has grown significantly over the past year, and product shortages are now standard across a range of key building products.

Add reductions in global steelmaking capacity and international supply chain issues into the mix and we are seeing extended steel lead times and project delays throughout the region. Steel product lead times increased from 6 weeks to up to 16 weeks over the course of 2021, and these delays have continued into 2022.

iNFORCE Project Manager, Austen Griffiths, notes that these market forces are causing a host of issues for commercial building projects.

“Steel delays and cost increases are causing many project budgets and timelines to blow out, putting pressure on builders, civil contractors and the engineers and specifiers working on these jobs.”

So what’s the solution?

The way forward: fibre reinforcement

One of the viable alternatives to conventional steel bar and mesh is steel or synthetic fibre reinforcement.

Fibre-reinforced concrete is a strong, reliable and cost-effective alternative that increases the flexural strength and shear resistance of the concrete. In addition, slabs and pavements constructed with fibre provide design efficiencies by removing the need for sawn joints and reducing construction joints.

Steel or synthetic fibre reinforcement allows for substantial reductions in transport costs and faster placement and – critically – it is readily available!

Austen adds that the cost efficiencies are pronounced, saving up to 40% on some projects.

“In recent projects where we have replaced the steel mesh with fibre, we have seen cost savings from 15% up to as high as 40% when compared with a conventional mesh and bar reinforcement slab design. Add the fact that you can have fibre delivered to site immediately – already in the concrete mix – and the project efficiencies are plain to see.”

Find out how to keep your project moving with a fibre design from iNFORCE

At iNFORCE, we work with engineers and construction teams to design and deliver higher performing, stronger and more cost-effective floor slabs and pavements.

Utilising the benefits of fibre reinforcement is just one of the ways we look at optimising your slab or pavement design. Get in touch with our team for professional designs, detailed specifications and on-site construction support.


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We understand that choosing the correct solution and type of product is essential for the success of any project. inForce GLOBAL has a technical support team with many years of concrete industry experience and successful project applications and are ready to help you find the right solution for your application.

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