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Fresh life for steel

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Structural steelwork has been confirmed again as the leading market choice for building frames, as you can read in News this month. In the key multi-storey offices market steel has reconfirmed the dominant position it has held for most of the past 30 years or more, with a 68% share of the market.

Steel’s commanding position in the singe storey buildings market, which is everything from sheds for the logistics sector to new factories like those that house the booming export market for UK produced cars, is also of long-standing and steel now accounts for over 90% of that market.

Other good news from the independently produced market share survey is that the market has been fairly buoyant, with the total market for structural frames up 7.2% in 2015. Further market growth is expected this year.

Why does steel enjoy such dominance? Designers consistently speak of steel’s cost-effectiveness compared to concrete or other alternatives, its flexibility, the potential for accepting late design changes in a fast moving development market, a host of sustainability benefits, and the fast construction programmes made possible only because of offsite fabrication, and quick, safe, erection. Many projects on congested inner city sites are barely conceivable these days without using steel as the framing solution.

There is no sign of this market preference changing. Steel manufacturing has been buffeted by global economic forces but the UK’s structural steel supply chain remains in good shape to continue its world-leading service to the construction market.

The construction industry is no place for resting on laurels, and also in News you can read about the progress of Steel for Life, a constructional steelwork supply chain initiative to ensure that architects, engineers and quantity surveyors continue to find designing in steel as straightforward as it can be by having all the design and cost advice they need, and have become used to, within easy reach.

Steel for Life will be an exemplar of how an integrated supply chain can work together to deliver the technical development, education and design and cost information that specifiers need.

Steel for Life is being funded by supply chain sponsors and the BCSA, and will be managed by BCSA staff. It has an Advisory Board that will meet three times a year, ensuring that in changing markets Steel for Life is providing the right sort of support for specifiers. It can only be money well spent – try imagining life in construction without steel.

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