Construction product sector welcomes building optimism

According to the latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), Irish construction activity accelerated in September, though the rate of job creation across the industry pulled back from elevated levels in previous months. The construction sector remains optimistic about activity prospects for the next 12 months, with almost 55% of surveyed construction firms anticipating further activity growth.

As part of Budget 2018, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe revealed that commencement notices for new housing are up 47%, and that planning permissions for new builds are up 49%. Along with these positive statistics, it was also announced that €1.83 billion has been allocated to housing in 2018.

According to the latest figures from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) Housing Monitor, almost 3,700 new dwellings were started in April and May 2017. Compared with the same period in 2016, this represented a rise of 61% in new homes started. This means that the second quarter of 2017 was the fifth straight quarter where the number commenced exceeded 3,000.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) expects activity to pick up this year to between 18,000 and 19,000 units, however the demand is put at between 25,000 and 35,000 units annually. According to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government almost 3,100 new homes were completed in the first two months of Q2 of 2017, representing a 27% increase in the number of new homes connected to the electricity grid, compared to the same two months in 2016.

While the sector is slowly growing it is evident that this rate of growth needs to improve in order to meet rising housing demands.

Product quality

Cork Plastics was established in Ireland in 1969 to design, manufacture and supply plastic products for the building and agricultural sectors. It has remained a wholly Irish-owned company and has significantly expanded its capacity throughout the years. It has been based in a purpose-built facility at Little Island, Cork, since 1999.

Cork Plastics has been based at Little Island, Cork, since 1999.

Cork Plastics expanded into the UK market in 1991 with the establishment of FloPlast in Sittingbourne, Kent. FloPlast Ltd is now a leading manufacturer and supplier of plastic building products in the UK. Cork Plastics is currently expanding its customer base across mainland Europe.

A focus on continuous improvement in product quality and development, coupled with particular attention to customer care and service, has earned Cork Plastics a reputation for technical excellence and commercial support, a company spokesperson said. The spokesperson continued: “Constant review and development of the product range, along with the highest operational principles in meeting international industrial accreditation (BS EN ISO 9002 standard), ensures product excellence and customer satisfaction.”

Hybrid, weather-resistant bags

Ecocem describes itself is Ireland’s premier producer of high performance, environmentally-friendly bagged cement. A spokesperson for the company explained: “High performance, because Ecocem’s bagged cement produces stronger and longer lasting concrete; environmentally-friendly because the materials used in Ecocem’s cement have a significantly lower carbon footprint (approximately 45% lower) than traditional bagged cements.

Ecocem packages its bagged cement in hybrid, weather-resistant bags.

“Quality is a priority for Ecocem. To further enhance product quality, Ecocem now packages its bagged cement in more durable hybrid, weather-resistant bags, which in addition to the technical and environmental benefits, offer customers a greater level of protection from the Irish weather. Ecocem’s bagged cement also has a shelf life of six months, which is twice as long as ordinary bagged cements.”

The spokesperson added: “The enhanced workability, brighter finish and competitive price of Ecocem bagged cement makes it a product of choice for plasterers, brick layers and general concrete users alike and a product of choice across the many working environments Ecocem’s customers operate in, whether that is on the farm, on the building site or in the home.” Ecocem is available in builders merchants across Ireland and the UK.

An emphasis on sustainability

Lagan Products is part of the Lagan Group, founded in 1960. Lagan Products constitutes the cement and clay product divisions of the group, manufacturing and supplying bulk and bagged cement, concrete roof tiles and accessories, clay bricks, chimney pots and flue products as well as ready mixed concrete, concrete blocks and sand.

Lagan Cement manufactures and supplies bulk and bagged cement.

A company spokesperson commented: “Lagan Concrete Roof Tiles and Bagged Cement products have earned an enviable reputation in the market for their inherent strength and durability. They are the preferred building products for builders and construction professionals across Ireland as they are easier to work with and extremely reliable.

“The company not only manufactures high quality products, but also places an emphasis on sustainability and the environment. Lagan Cement’s manufacturing plant in Kinnegad, Westmeath has reduced its fossil fuel usage by over 70%, replacing it with recycled fuels.”

The plant has also been awarded the ‘Excellent’ rating in the BES 6001 certification for responsible sourcing, demonstrating the company’s commitment to its supply chain and vision for a sustainable and responsible business for the future.