Mike Lomax, Marketing Communications Manager, Tarmac Cement speaks to PBM about how manufacturers constantly need to adapt and innovate in order to meet the demands of the ever-changing construction market.
As in so many industries, product innovation in construction is accelerating in response to rapidly evolving customer demands. As the end users’ needs become more sophisticated and regulation becomes more stringent, builders and those who supply them need to be able to adapt fast.
For manufacturers like Tarmac, that requires us to listen carefully to what builders and merchants are saying, understand what they are up against and to develop new products to meet those requirements and help take the industry forward.
One such innovation, which we introduced a number of years ago, was to develop a plastic bag that allows for easy storage of products outside in all conditions, freeing up indoor space onsite and tackling the age-old problem of unused cement going off in the rain. Similarly, our introduction of plastic tubs allows not only builders but also other tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians to use just a small amount of product, without wastage — and keep their vans tidy!
A further development on this theme was our introduction of the 12.5kg bag, which allows professionals and DIY-ers alike to carry out smaller jobs without wasting half or more of a 25kg bag, which was often halved with a spade and then left open to spoil.
These innovations were driven by the changing needs of the industry as a whole — not just the demands of the guys on the job but the wider need for more sustainable building practices.
But what about what’s in the bags? How are these products helping builders meet today’s challenges? With work schedules becoming increasingly demanding, mounting time pressures mean builders often need speedy solutions. Alongside more efficient planning and – for manufacturers and merchants – distribution, we also need to think about the time it takes to use the products themselves.
One of best examples of product development in response to the modern ‘need for speed’ is Tarmac’s Blue Circle Postcrete – a ready-to-use post fixing concrete. Postcrete was specially formulated to cater to those who need to build strong fences in rapid time. It sets fast – reaching full strength in 10 minutes. In timed tests we’ve seen experienced fencers set two posts and hang a panel in just six minutes! For builders, or other professionals such as landscapers or farmers who need a permanent fence built quickly, Postcrete offers that durability and speed.
But it’s not just the builders that manufacturers need to be listening to. As stakeholders, merchants are every bit as important and have their own set of evolving needs. The introduction of plastic packaging was just as much a response to merchants’ storage requirements as builders’ – the ability to keep stocks of product outside all year round frees up indoor space for other items, ultimately supporting sales.
The journey from customer insights to new products is always a challenging and exciting one. In today’s diverse and dynamic construction industry, tougher demands from end users and regulators are driving a quicker pace of change and innovation than ever before. For merchants, my advice is to stay informed about the new products coming through so as to be able to advise and guide customers towards best practice. And as manufacturers, our job is to stay at the centre of those trends by listening to professionals right across the industry.